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IN PROSE. 



BEING 



A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS. 



BY 



CHARLES DICKENS. 



NEW-YORK: 

PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, 
No. 82 Cliff-Street. 




18 44. 



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A 



CHRISTMAS CAROL 



IN PROSE. 



BEING 



A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS. 



BY 



CHARLES DICKENS. 



NEW-YORK : 

PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, 
No. 82 Clip F- Street. 

1844. 



PREFACE. 



I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly httle book, to raise the Ghosi of an 
Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with 
each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleas- 
antly, and no one wish to lay it. 

Their faithful Friend and Servant, 

C. D. 

December, 1843. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



STAVE I. 
makley's ghost. 

MiRLEY was dead : to begin with. There is 
no doubt whatever about that. The register 
of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the 
clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. 
Scrooge signed it : and Scrooge's name was 
good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put 
his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a 
door-nail. , t i r 

Mind ' I don't mean to say that I know, ol 
my own knowledge, what there is particularly 
dead about a door-nail. I might have been in- 
clined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the 
deadest piece of ironmongery m the trade. 
But the wisdom of our ancestors is m the 
simile- and my unhallowed hands shall not 
disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will 
therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, 
that Marley was as dead as a door-nail. 

Scrooge knew he was dead % Of course he 
did. How could it be otherwise ^ Scrooge 
and he were partners for I don't know how 
many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, 
his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole 
residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole 
mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dread- 
fully cut up by the sad event, but that he was 
an excellent man of business on the very day 
of the funeral, and solemnised it with an un- 
doubted bargain. 

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me 
back to the point I started from. There is no 
doubt that Marley was dead. This must be 
distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can 
come of the story I am going to relate. If we 
were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Fa- 
ther died before the play began, there would be 
nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll 
at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own 
ramparts, than there would be in any other 
middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after 
dark in a breezy spot— say Saint Paul's Church- 
yard for instance— literally to astonish his son's 
weak mind. 

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. 
There it stood, years afterwards, above the 
warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The 
firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Some- 
times people new to the business called Scrooge 
Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he an- 
swered to both names : it was all the same to 
him. 

Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the 
grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, 
grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sin- 
ner ! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no 
steel had ever struck out generous fire ; secret, 
and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. 
The cold within him froze his old features, nip- 



ped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiflf- 
ened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips 
blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating 
voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on 
his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried 
his own low temperature always about with 
him ; he iced his office in the dog-days ; and 
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. 

External heat and cold had little influence on 
Scrooge. No warmth could warm, nor wintry 
weather chill him. No wind that blew was bit- 
terer than he, no falling snow was more intent 
upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to 
entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to 
have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and 
hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage 
over him in only one respect. They often 
"came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never 
did. 

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, 
with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how 
are youl when will you come to see me?" 
No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no 
children asked him what it was o'clock, no man 
or woman ever once in all his life inquired the 
w'ay to such and such a place, of Scrooge. 
Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know 
him ; and when they saw him coming on, would 
tug their owners into doorways and up courts ; 
and then would wag their tails as though they 
said, " no eye at all is better than an evil eye, 
dark master !" 

But what did Scrooge care 1 It was the very 
thing he liked. To edge his way along the 
crowded paths of life, warning all human sym- 
pathy to keep its distance, was what the know- 
ing ones call " nuts" to Scrooge. 

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the 
year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy 
in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, bi- 
ting weather : foggy withal : and he could hear 
the people in the court outside go wheezing up 
and down, beating their hands upon their 
breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pave- 
ment-stones to warm them. The city clocks 
had only just gone three, but it was quite dark 
already : it had not been light all day : and can- 
dles were flaring in the windows of the neigh- 
bouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the pal- 
pable brown air. The fog came pouring in at 
every chink and keyhole, and was so dense 
without, that although the court was of the nar- 
rowest, the houses opposite were mere phan- 
toms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping 
down, obscuring everything, one might have 
thought that Nature lived hard by, and was 
brewing on a large scale. 

The door of Scrooge's counting-house was 
open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, 
who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, 
was copying letters. Scrooge had a vp^. small 



6 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much small- 
er that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't 
replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-hox in his 
own room ; and so surely as the clerk came in 
with the shovel, the master predicted that it 
would be necessary for them to part. Where- 
fore the clerk put on his white comforter, and 
tried to warm himself at the candle ; in which 
effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, 
he failed. 

" A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save 
you !" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice 
of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so 
quickly that this was the first intimation he had 
of his approach. 

" Bah !" said Scrooge, "Humbug !" 

He had so heated himself with rapid walking 
in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, 
that he was all in a glow ; his face was ruddy 
and handsome ; his eyes sparkled, and his 
breath smoked again. 

" Christmas a humbug, uncle !" said Scrooge's 
nephew. " You don't mean that, I am sure." 

" I do," said Scrooge. " Merry Christmas ! 
what right have you to be merry ^ what reason 
have you to be merry 1 You're poor enough." 

"Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. 
" What right have you to be dismal "! what rea- 
son have you to be morose 1 You're rich 
enough." 

Scrooge having no better answer on the spur 
of the moment, said, " Bah !" again ; and fol- 
lowed it up with "Humbug." 

" Don't be cross, uncle," said the nephew. 

" What else can I be," returned the uncle. 
" when I live in such a world of fools as this 1 
Merry Christmas ! Out upon merry Christ- 
mas ! What's Christmas time to you but a 
time for paying bills without money ; a time for 
finding yourself a year older, and not an hour 
richer ; a time for balancing your books and 
having every item in 'em through a round dozen 
of months presented dead against you 1 If I 
could work my will," said Scrooge, indignantly, 
" evey idiot who goes about with ' Merry Christ- 
mas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own 
pudding, and buried with a stake of holly 
through his heart. He should !" 

" Uncle !" pleaded the nephew. 

"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, 
" keep Christmas in your own way, and let me 
keep it in mine." 

" Keep it !" repeated Scrooge's nephew. 
" But you don't keep it." 

" Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. 
" Much good may it do you ! Much good it has 
ever done you !" 

" There are many things from which I might 
have derived good, by which I have not profit- 
ed, 1 dare say," returned the nephew : " Christ- 
mas among the rest. But I am sure I have al- 
ways thought of Christmas time, when it has 
come round— apart from the veneration due to 
its sacred name and origin, if anything belong- 
ing to it can be apart from that— as a good time : 
a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time ; the 
only time I know of, in the long calendar of the 
year, when men and women seem by one con- 
sent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to 
think of people below them as if they really 
were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not 
anoth« race of creatures bound on other jour- 



neys. And therefore, uncle, though it has nev- 
er put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I 
believe that it has done me good, and will do me 
good ; and I say, God bless it !" 

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applaud- 
ed : becoming immediately sensible of the im- 
propriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished 
the last frail spark for ever. 

" Let me hear another sound from you" said 
Scrooge, " and you'll keep your Christmas by 
losing your situation. You're quite a powerful 
speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. 
" I wonder you don't go into Parliament." 

" Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with 
us to-morrow." 

Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, in- 
deed he did. He went the whole length of the 
expression, and said that he would see him in 
that extremity first. 

"But why!" cried the nephew. "WhyV 
" Why did you get married 1" said Scrooge. 
" Because I fell in love." 
" Because you fell in love !" growled Scrooge, 
as if that were the only one thing in the world 
more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. " Good 
afternoon !" 

" Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me 
before that happened. Why give it as a reason 
for not coming now 1 

" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge. 
" I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of 
you ; why cannot we be friends?' 
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge. 
" I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you 
so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, 
to which I have been a party. But I have made 
the trial in hsmage to Christmas, and I'll keep 
my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry 
Christmas, uncle I" 
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge. 
" And A Happy New Year !" 
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge. 
His nephew left the room without an angry 
word, notwithstanding. He stopped at the out- 
er door to bestow the greetings of the season on 
the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer 
than Scrooge ; for he returned them cordially. 

" There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge, 
who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen 
shillings a-week, and a wife and family, talking 
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bed- 
lam." 

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew 
out, had let two other people in. They were 
portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now 
stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. 
They had books and papers in their hands, and 
bowed to him. 

" Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one 
of the gentlemen, referring to his list. " Have 
I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or 
Mr. Marley !" 

" Mr. Marley has been dead these seven 
years," Scrooge replied. " He died seven years 
ago, this very night." 

" We have no doubt his liberality is well 
represented by his surviving partner," said the 
gentleman, presenting his credentials. 

It certainly was ; for they had been two kin- 
dred spirits. At the ominous word " liberality," 
Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and hand- 
ed the credentials back. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



" At this festive season of the year, Mr. 
Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 
" it is more than usually desirable that we 
should make some slight provision for the poor 
>and destitute, who sutfer greatly at the present 
'time Many thousands are in want of common 
necessaries ; hundreds of thousands are in want 
-of common comforts, sir." 

Are there no prisons V asked Scrooge. 

" Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, lay- 
ing down the pen again. 

"And the Union workhouses!" demanded 
Scrooge. " Are they still in operation V 

" They are. Still," returned the gentleman, 
-" I wish I could say they were not." 

" The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full 
•vigour, then !" said Scrooge. 

" Both very busy, sir." 

" Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at 
first, that something had occurred to stop them 
in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm 
-very glad to hear it." 

" Under the impression that they scarcely fur- 
nish Christian cheer of mind or body to the 
multitude," returned the gentleman, " a few of 
us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the 
Poor some meat and drink, and means of 
warmth. We choose this time, because it is a 
time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, 
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you 
down forV 

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied. 

" You wish to be anonymous !" 

"I wish to he left alone," said Scrooge. 
" Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, 
that is ray answer. I don't make merry myself 
at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle 
people merry. I help to support the establish- 
ments I have ipentioned ; they cost enough ; 
rand those who are badly off must go there." 

" Many can't go there ; and many would ra- 
ther die." 

" If they would rather die," said Scrooge, 
" they had better do it, and decrease the surplus 
population. Besides— excuse me— I don't know 
that." , , 

" But you might know it," observed the gen- 
tleman, 

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned. 
" It's enough for a man to understand his own 
business, and not to interfere with other peo- 
- pie's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good af- 
ternoon, gentlemen !" 

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to 
persue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. 
Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved 
opinion of himself, and in a more facetious tem- 
per than was usual with him. 

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, 
that people ran about with flaring links, proffer- 
ing their services to go before horses in car- 
liages, and conduct them on their way. The 
ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell 
was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out 
of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisi- 
ble, and struck the hours and quarters in the 
clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards, as 
if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head 
up there. The cold became intense. In the 
main street, at the corner of the court, some la 
bourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had 
lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a 



party of ragged men and boys were gathered : 
warming their hands and winking their eyes 
before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug 
being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly 
congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The 
brightness ot the shops, where holly sprigs and 
berries crackled in the lamp-heat of the win- 
dows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. 
Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splen- 
did joke : a glorious pageant, with which it was 
next to impossible to believe that such dull 
principles as bargain and sale had anything to 
do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the 
mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty 
cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord 
Mayor's household should ; and even the little 
tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the 
previous Monday for being drunk and blood- 
thirsty in the streets, stirred up to-morrow's 
pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and 
the baby sallied out to buy the beef. 

Foggier yet, and colder ! Piercing, searching, 
biting cold. If the good Saint Dunstan had but 
nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of 
such weather as that, instead of using his fa- 
miliar weapons, then indeed he would have 
roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one 
scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the 
hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, 
stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale 
him with a Christmas carol : but at the first 
sound of — 



" God bless you, merry gentleman ! 
May notliing you dismay !" 

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of 
action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the 
keyhole to the fog and even morecongenial frost. 

At length the hour of shutting up the count- 
ing-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge 
dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted 
the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who 
instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his 
hat. 

" You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose V 
said Scrooge. 

" If quite convenient, sir." 
" It's not convenient," said Scrooge, " and 
it's not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for 
it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound V 
The clerk smiled faintly. 
" And yet," said Scrooge, " you don't think 
me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no 
work." 

The clerk observed that it was only once a 
year. 

" A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket 
every twenty-fifth of December !" said Scrooge, 
buttoning his great-coat to the chin. " But I 
suppose you must have the whole day. Be 
here all the earlier next morning !" 

The clerk promised that he would ; and 
Scrooge walked out with a growl. The office 
was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with 
the long ends of his white comforter dangling 
below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat), 
went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a 
lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its be- 
ing Christmas-eve, and then ran home to Cam- 
den Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at 
blindman's-buff. 

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner m his 
usual melancholy tavern ; and having read all 



8 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the 
evening with his banker's-book, went home to 
bed. He lived in chambers which had once be- 
longed to his deceased partner. They were a 
gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of 
building up a yard, where it had so little busi- 
ness to"be, that one could scarcely help fancy- 
ing it must have run there when it was a young 
house, playing at hide-and-seek with other 
houses, and have forgotten the way out again. 
It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for 
nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms 
being all let out as offices. The yard was so 
dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every 
stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The 
fog and frost so hung about the black old gate- 
way of the house, that it seemed as if the 
Genius of the Weather sat in mournful medita- 
tion on the threshold. 

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing, at all 
particular about the knocker on the door, ex- 
cept that it was very large. It is also a fact, 
that Scrooge had seen it night and morning 
during his whole residence in that place ; also 
that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy 
about him as any man in the City of London, 
even including — which is a bold word — the cor- 
poration, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be 
borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed 
one thought on Marley, since his last mention 
of his seven-years' dead partner that afternoon. 
And then let any man explain to me, if he can, 
how it happened that S'crooge, having his key 
in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, 
without its undergoing any intermediate pro- 
cess of change : not a knocker, but Marley's 
face. 

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable 
shadow as the other objects in the yard were, 
but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lob- 
.ster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or fero- 
cions, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to 
look : with ghostly spectacles turned up upon 
its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously 
stirred, as if by breath or hot-air ; and though 
the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly 
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made 
it horrible ; but its horror seemed to be, in 
spite of the face and beyond its control, rather 
than a part of its own expression. 

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenome- 
non, it was a knocker again. 

To say that he was not startled, or that his 
blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation 
to which it had been a stranger from infancy, 
would be untrue. But he put his hand upon 
the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, 
walked in, and lighted his candle. 

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, 
before he shut the door ; and he did look cau- 
tiously behind at first, as if he half-expected to 
be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail 
sticking out into the hall. But there was no- 
thing on the back of the door, except the screws 
and nuts that held the knocker on ; so he said, 
" Pooh, pooh !" and closed it with a bang. 

The sound resounded through the house like 
thunder. Every room above, and every cask 
in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared 
to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. 
Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by 
echoes. He fastened the door, and walked 



across the hall, and up the stairs : slowly too .- 
trimming his candle as he went. 

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach- 
and-six up a good old flight of stairs', or through 
a bad young Act of Parliament ; but I mean to. 
say you might have got a hearse up that stair- 
case, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter- 
bar towards the wall, and the door towards the 
balustrades : and done it easy. There was 
plenty of width for that, and room to spare, 
which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge 
thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on 
before him in the gloom. Half a dozen gas- 
iamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted 
the entry too well, so you may suppose that it 
was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. 

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for 
that : darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. 
But before he shut his heavy door, he walked 
through his rooms to see that all was right. He 
had just enough recollection of the face to de-- 
sire to do that. 

Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All 
as they should be. Nobody under the table, 
nobody under the sofa ; a small fire m the 
grate ; spoon and basin ready ; and the little 
saucepan (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon 
the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in 
the closet ; nobody in his dressing-gown, which, 
was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against 
the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire- 
guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing' 
stand on three legs, and a poker. 

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked 
himself in ; double-locked himself in, which was 
not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, 
he took ofi"his cravat, put on his dressing-gowa 
and slippers, and his nightcap, and sat down 
before the fire to take his. gruel. 

It was a very low fire indeed ; nothing on 
such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit 
close to it, and brood over it, before he could 
extract the least sensation of warmth from 
such a handful of fuel. The fire-place was an 
old one, built by some Dutch merchant long 
ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch 
tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. 
There were Cains and Abels ; Pharaoh's 
daughters. Queens of Sheba, Angelic messen- 
gers descending through the air on clouds like 
feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles 
putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of 
figures, to attract his thoughts ; and yet that 
face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the 
ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the 
whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank 
at first, with power to shape some picture on 
its surface from the disjointed fragments of his 
thoughts, there would have been a copy of old 
Marley's head on every one. 

" Humbug!" said Scrooge, and walked across 
the room. 

After several turns, he sat down again. As 
he threw his head back in the chair, his glance 
happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that 
hung in the room, and communicated for some 
purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the 
highest story of the building. It was Vfith 
great astonishment, and with a strange, inex- 
plicable dread, that as he looked he saw this 
bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the 
outset that it scarcely made a sound ; but sooit , 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



9 



it rang out loudly, anJ so did every bell in the 
house. 

This might have lasted half a minute, or a 
minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells ) 
ceased as thev had begun, together. They i 
were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down ( 
below, as if some person were dragging a i 
heavy chain over the caslis in the wine-mer- 
chant's cellar. Scrooge then remembered to ■ 
have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were 
described as dragging chains. 

The cellar-door Hew open with a booming i 
sound, and then he heard the noise much loud- 
er, on the floors below ; then coming up the 
stairs ; then coming straight towards his door. 

" It's humbug still !" said Scrooge. " I won't 
believe it." 

His colour changed though, when, without a 
pause, it came on through the heavy door, and 
passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its 
coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though 
it cried "I know him! Marley's Ghost !" and 
fell again. 

The same face ; the very same. Marley in 
his pig-tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots ; 
the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, 
and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. 
The chain he drew was clasped about his mid- 
dle. It was long, and wound about him like a 
tail ; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it 
closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, 
deeds^ and heavy purses wrought in steel. His 
body was transparent : so that Scrooge, observ- 
ing him, and looking through his waistcoat, 
could see the two buttons on his coat behind. 

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley 
had no bowels, but he had never believed it un- 
til now. 

No, nor did he believe it even now. Though 
he looked the phantom through and through, 
and saw it standing before him ; though he felt 
the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes ; 
and marked the very texture of the folded ker- 
chief bound about its head and chin, which 
wrapper he had not observed before : he was 
still incredulous and fought against his senses. 

" How now !" said Scrooge, caustic and cold 
as ever. " What do you want with me 1" 

"Much '."—Marley's voice, no doubt about it. 

" Who are you 1" 

" Ask me who I was." 

" Who were you then V said Scrooge, raising 
his voice. " You're particular— for a shade." 
He was going to say " to a. shade," but substi- 
tuted this, as more appropriate. 

" In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley." 

" Can you — can you sit down V inquired 
Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him. 

" I can." 

" Do it then." 

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't 
know whether a ghost so transparent might find 
himself in a condition to take a chair ; and felt 
that in the event of its being impossible, it might 
involve the necessity of an embarrassing ex- 
planation. But the ghost sat down on the oppo- 
site side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used 
to it. 

"You don't believe in me," said the Ghost. 
" I don't," said Scrooge. 
" What evidence would you have of my re- 
ality, beyond that of your senses?" 



"I don't know," said Scrooge. 
" Why do you doubt your senses 1" 
" Because," said Scrooge, " a little thing af- 
fects them. A slight disorder of the stomach 
makes them cheats. You may be an undigest- 
ed bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of 
cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. 
There's more of gravy than of grave about you, 
whatever you are !" 

Scrooge was not much in the habit of crack- 
ing jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any 
means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried 
to be smart, as a means of distracting his own 
attention, and keeping down his terror ; for the 
spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his 
bones. 

To sit, staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in 
silence for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, 
the very dense with him. There was something 
very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided 
with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge 
could not feel it himself, but this was clearly 
the case ; for though the Ghost sat perfectly mo- 
tionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were 
still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven. 

"You see this toothpick"!" said Scrooge, re- 
turning quiclily to the charge, for the reason just 
assigned ; and wishing, though it were only for 
a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from 
himself. 

" I do," replied the Ghost. 
" You are not looking at it," said Scrooge. 
"But I see it," said the Ghost, "notwith- 
standing. 

" Weill" returned Scrooge. " I have but to 
swallow this, and be for the rest of my days 
persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own 
creation. Humbug, I tell you— humbug !" 

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and 
shook its chain with such a dismal and appall- 
ing noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his 
chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. 
But how much greater was his horror, when 
the phantom taking off the bandage round its 
head, as if it were too warm to wear in doors,, 
its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast ! 

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his 
hands before his face. 

"Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, 
why do you trouble me V 

"Man of the worldly mind!" replied the 
Ghost, " do you believe in me or notl" 

" I do," said Scrooge. " I must. But why 
do 'spirits walk the earth, and why do they 
come to me 1" 

" It is required of every man," the Ghost re- 
turned, " that the spirit within him should walk 
abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far 
and wide ; and if that spirit goes not forth in 
life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is 
doomed to wander through the world — oh, wo 
is me ! and witness what it cannot share, but 
might have shared on earth, and turned to hap- 
piness!" 

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its 
chain, and wrung its shadowy hands. 

" You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. 
" Tell me why V 

" I w-ear the chain I forged in life," replied 
the Ghost. " I made it link by link, and yard 
. by yard ; I girded it on of my own free will, and 
of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern, 
strange to you ?" 



JIO 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



Scrooge trembled more and more. 

" Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, 
"the weight and length of the strong coil you 
bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as 
-long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You 
have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous 
chain !" 

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in 
the expectation of finding himself surrounded 
■by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable : 
;but he could see nothing. 

" Jacob," he said, imploringly. " Old Jacob 
Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, 
Jacob." 

" I have none to give," the Ghost replied. " It 
■comes from other regions, Ehenezer Scrooge, 
-and is conveyed by other ministers, to other 
kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. 
A very little more is all permitted to me. I 
cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger any 
where. My spirit never walked beyond our 
counting-house — mark me! in life my spirit 
never roved beyond the narrow limits of our 
money-changing hole ; and weary journeys lie 
before me !" 

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever be 
became thoughtful, to put his hands in his 
breeches pockets. Pondering on what the 
Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lift- 
ing up bis eyes, or getting off his knees. 

" You must have been very slow about it, 
Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a business-like 
.manner, though with liumility and deference. 

" Slow I" the Ghost repeated. 

"Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. "And 
travelling all the time V 

"The whole time," said* the Ghost. "No 
rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse." 

"You travel fasti" said Scrooge. 

" On the wings of the wind," replied the 
Ghost. 

" You might have got over a great quantity 
of ground in seven years," said Scrooge. 

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another 
■cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the 
dead silence of the night, that the Ward would 
have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance. 

" Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed," 
ciied the phantom, " not to know, that ages of 
incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this 
-earth must pass into eternity before the good 
of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not 
to know that any Christian spirit working kind- 
,;jy in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will 
find its mortal life too short for its vast means 
•of usefulness. Not to know that no space of 
JCgret can make amends for one life's opportu- 
nities misused ! Yet such was 11 Oh ! such 
was I !" 

" But you were always a good man of busi- 
ness, Jacob," faultered Scrooge, who now began 
to apply this to himself 

" Business !" cried the Ghost, wringing its 
hands again. "Mankind was my business. 
The common welfare was my business ; chari- 
ty, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were 
all my business. The dealings of my trade 
were but a drop of water in the comprehensive 
ocean of my business !" 

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that 
were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and 
..flung it heavily upon the ground again. 



"At this time of the rolling year," the spec- 
tre said, " I suffer most. Why did I walk 
through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes 
turned down, and never raise them to that 
blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor 
abode 1 Were there no poor homes to which 
its light would have conducted me !" 

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear 
the spectre going on at this rate, and began to 
quake exceedingly. 

" Hear me !" cried the Ghost. " My time is 
nearly gone." 

" I will," said Scrooge. " But don't be hard 
upon me ! Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray !" 

" How it is that I appear before you in a 
shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have 
sat invisible beside you many and many a day." 

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shiv- 
ered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow. 

" That is no light part of my penance," pur- 
sued the Ghost. " I am here to-night to warn 
you, that you have yet a chance and hope of 
escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my 
procuring, Ebenezer." 

" You were always a good friend to me," 
said Scrooge. " Thank'ee !" 

" You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, 
"by Three Spirits." 

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as 1o\t as 
the Ghost's had done. 

" Is that the chance and hope you mention- 
ed, Jacob 1" he demanded, in a faultering voice. 

"It is." 

" I — I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge. 

"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you 
cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect 
the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls one." 

" Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it 
over, Jacob 1" hinted Scrooge. 

" Expect the second on the next night at the 
same hour. The third upon the next night, 
when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to 
vibrate. Look to see me no more ; and look 
that, for your own sake, you remember what 
has passed between us !" 

When it had said these words, the spectre 
took its wrapper from the table, and bound it 
round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this, 
by the smart sound its teeth made, when the 
jaws were brought together by the bandage. 
He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found 
his supernatural visitor confronting him in an 
erect attitude, with its chain wound over and 
about its arm. 

The apparition walked backward from him ; 
and at every step it took, the window raised it- 
self a little, so that when the spectre reached it, 
it was wide open. It beckoned Scrooge to ap- 
proach, which he did. When they were within 
two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held 
up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. 
Scrooge stopped. 

Not so much in obedience as in surprise and 
fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became 
sensible of confused noises in the air ; incohe- 
rent sounds of lamentation and regret ; wail- 
ings inexpressibly sorrowful and self- accusato- 
ry. The spectre, after listening for a moment, 
joined in the mournful dirge ; and floated out 
upon the bleak, dark night. 

Scrooge followed to the window : desperate 
in his curiosity. He looked out. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



n 



The air was filled with phantoms, wandering 
hitherand thither in restless haste, and moaning 
as they went. Every one of them wore chains 
like Marley's Ghost ;. some few (they might be 
guilty governments) were linked together ; none 
■were free. Many had been personally known 
to Scrooge in their lives. He had teen quite 
familiar with one old ghost in a white waist- 
coat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its 
ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to 
assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom 
it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery 
-with them all was, clearly, that they sought to 
interfere, for good, in human matters, and had 
■lost the power for ever. 

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or 
mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. I3ut 
they and their spirit voices faded together ; and 
the night became as it had been when he walk- 
ed home. 

Scrooge closed the window, and examined 
the door by which the Ghost had entered. It 
•was double-locked, as he had locked it with his 
own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. 
He tried to say " Humbug !" but stopped at the- 
first syllable. And being, from the ehiotion he 
had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or 
his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull 
conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of 
the hour, much in need of repose, went straight 
to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon 
the instant. 



STAVE TWO. 

THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS. 

When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that 
looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish 
the transparent window from the opaque walls 
of his chamber. He was endeavouring to 
pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when 
the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the 
four quarters. So he listened for the hour. 

To his great astonishment the heavy bell 
■went on from six to seven, and from seven to 
eight, and regularly up to twelve ; then stopped. 
Twelve ! It was past two when he went to 
bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must 
have got into the works. Twelve ! 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to cor- 
rect this most preposterous clock. Its rapid 
little pulse beat twelve ; and stopped. 

" Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge, " that 
I can have slept through a whole day and far 
into another night. It isn't possible that any- 
thing has happened to the sun, and this is twelve 
at noon !" 

The idea being an alarming one, he scram- 
bled out of bed, and groped his way to the win- 
dow. He was obliged to rub the frost off with 
the sleeve of bis dressing-gown before he could 
see anything ; and could see very little then. 
All he could make out was, that it was still very 
foggy and extremely cold, and that there was 
no noise of people running to and fro, and ma- 
king a great stir, as there unquestionably would 
have been if night had beaten off bright day, 
and taken possession of the world. This was 
■a great relief, because " three days after sight 
-of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer 



Scrooge or his order," and so forth, would have 
become a mere United States' security if there 
were no days to count by. 

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and 
thought, and thought it over and over and over, 
and could make nothing of it. The more he 
thought, the more perplexed he was ; and the 
more he endeavoured not to think, the more he 
thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceed- 
ingly. Every time he resolved within himself, 
alter mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, 
his mind flew back again, like a strong spring re- 
leased, to its first position, and presented the 
same problem to be worked all through, " Was 
it a dream or not V 

Scrooge lay in this state until the chimes had 
gone three quarters more, when he remembered, 
on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of 
a visitation when the bell tolled one. He re- 
solved to lie awake until the hour was past ; 
and, considering that he could no more go to 
sleep than go to Heaven, this was perhaps the 
wisest resolution in his power. 

The quarter was so long, that he was more 
than once convinced he must have sunk into a 
doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At 
length it broke upon his listening ear. 

" Ding, dong !" 

"A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting. 

" Ding, dong !" 

" Half past !" said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong !" 

" A quarter to it," said Scrooge. 
" Ding, doBg !" 

" The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphant- 
ly, " and nothing else !" 

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which 
it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy 
One. Light flashed up in the room upon the 
instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn. 

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I 
tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his 
feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to 
which his face was addressed. The curtains 
of his bed were drawn aside ; and Scrooge, 
starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found 
himself face to face with the unearthly visiter 
who drew them : as close to it as I am now to 
you, and I am standing in the spirit at your el- 
bow. 

It was a strange figure — like a child : yet not 
so like a child as like an old man, viewed through 
some supernatural medium, which gave him the 
appearance of having receded from the view, 
and being diminished to a child's proportions. 
Its hair, which hung about its neck and down 
its back, was white as if with age ; and yet the 
face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest 
bloom was on the skin. The arms were very 
long and muscular ; the hands the same, as if 
its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs 
and feet, most delicately formed, were, like 
those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic 
of the purest white ; and round its waist was 
bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was 
beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly 
in its hand ; and, in singular contradiction of 
that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with 
summer flowers. But the strangest thing about 
it was, that from the crown of its head there 
sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all 
this was visible ; and which was doubtless the 



12 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a 
great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held 
under its arm. 

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it 
with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest 
quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered 
now in one part and now in another, and what 
was light one instant, at another time was dark, 
so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness : 
being now a thing with one arm, now with one 
leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs 
without a head, now a head without a body : of 
which dissolving parts, no outline would be vis- 
ible in the dense gloom wherein they melted 
away. And in the very wonder of this, it would 
be itself again ; distinct and clear as ever. 

" Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was 
foretold to me V asked Scrooge. 

" I am !" 

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly 
low, as if instead of being so close beside him, 
it were at a distance. 

"Who, and what are youl" Scrooge de- 
manded. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Past." 
" Long past V inquired Scrooge : observant 
of its dwarfish stature. 
" No. Your past." 

Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody 
why, if anybody could have asked him ; but he 
had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap ; 
and begged him to be covered. 

" What !" exclaimed the Ghost, " would you 
so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I 
give? Is it not enough that you are one of 
those whose passions made this cap, and force 
me through whole trains of years to wear it low 
upon my brow !" 

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to 
otTend, or any knowledge of having wilfully 
" bonneted" the Spirit at any period of his life. 
He then made bold to inquire what business 
brought him there. 

" Your welfare !" said the Ghost. 
Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but 
could not help thinking that a night of unbroken 
rest would have been more conducive to that 
end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, 
for it said immediately : 

" Your reclamation, then. Take heed !" 
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and 
clasped him gently by the arm. 
" Rise ! and walk with me !" 
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to 
plead that the weather and the hour were not 
adapted to pedestrian purposes ; that bed was 
warm, and the thermometer a long way below 
freezing ; that he was clad but lightly in his 
slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap ; and that 
he had a cold upon him at that time. The 
grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was 
not to be resisted. He rose : but finding that 
the Spirit made towards the window, clasped its 
robe in supplication. , 

" I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, " and 1 
liable to fall." I 

" Bear but a toucli of my hand there," said i 

the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, " and you , 

shall be upheld in more than this !" j 

As the words were spoken, they passed ; 

through the wall, and stood upon an open coun- ( 
try road, with fields on either hand. The city 



I had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was 
I to be seen. The darkness and the mist had 
vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter 
; day, with snow upon the ground. 

" Good Heaven !" said Scrooge, clasping his 
I hands together, as he looked about him. " I 
, was bred in this place. I was a boy here !" 
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle 
touch, though it had been light and instanta- 
! neous, appeared still present to the old man's 
sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thou- 
' sand odours floating in the air, each one con- 
nected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, 
and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten ! 

"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost, 
" And what is that upon your cheek 

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching 
in his voice, that it was a pimple ; and begged 
the Ghost to lead him where he would. 

" You recollect the way !" inquired the Spirit. 
" Remember it !" cried Scrooge with fervour 
— "I could walk it blindfold." 

" Stralge to have forgotten it for so many 
years !" observed the Ghost. " Let us go on !" 

They walked along the road ; Scrooge recog- 
nising every gate, and post, and tree ; untd a 
little market-town appeared in the distance, 
with its bridge, its church, and winding river. 
Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting 
towards them with boys upon their backs, who 
called to other boys in country gigs and carts, 
driven by farmers. All these boys were in 
great spirits, and shouted to each other, until 
the broad fields were so full of merry music, 
that the crisp air laughed to hear it. 

" These are but shadows of the things that 
have been," said the Ghost. " They have no 
consciousness of us." 

The jocund travellers came on ; and as they 
came, Scrooge knew and named thei« every 
one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds 
to see them ! Why did his cold eye glisten, and 
his heart leap up as they went past ! Why was 
he filled with gladness when he heard them 
give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted 
at cross-roads and bye ways, for their several 
homes ! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge T 
Out upon merry Christmas ! What good had it 
ever done to him % 

" The school is not quite deserted," said the 
Ghost. " A solitary child, neglected by his 
friends, is left there still." 

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. 
They left the high-road, by a well remem- 
bered lane, and soon approached a mansion of 
dull red brick, with a little weathercock-sur- 
mounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging 
in it. It was a large house, but one of broken 
fortunes; for the spacious offices were little 
used, their walls were damp and mossy, their 
windows broken, and their gates decayed. 
Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables ; and 
the coach-houses and sheds were overrun with 
grass. Nor was it more retentive of its an- 
cient state, within ; for entering the dreary 
hall, and glancing through the open doors of 
many rooms, they found them poorly furnished,, 
cold, and vast. There was an earthly savour 
in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which- 
associated itself somehow with t 'o much get- 
ting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat. 
■They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



1$ 



the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It 
opened hefore them, and disclosed a long, bare, 
melancholy room, made barer still by lines of 
plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a 
lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ; and 
Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to 
see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be. 

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak 
and scuffle from the mice behind the panneling, 
not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in 
the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the 
leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not 
the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, 
no, not a clicking in the fire, bjt fell upon the 
heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and 
gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit-; touched him on the arm, and 
pointed to his younger self, intent upon his 
reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments : 
wonderfully real and distinct to look at : stood 
outside the window, with an axe stuck in his 
belt, and leading an ass laden with wood by the 
bridle. 

" Why, it's Ali Baba !" Scrooge exclaimed 
in ecstacy. " It's dear old honest Ali Baba ! 
Yes, yes, I know ! One Christmas time, when 
yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he 
did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor 
boy ! And Valentine," said Scrooge, " and his 
•wild brother, Orson ; there they go ! And 
what's his name, who was put down in his 
drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus ; 
don't you see him ! And the Sultan's Groom 
turned upside-down by the Genii ; there he is 
upon his head ! Serve him right. I'm glad of 
it. What business had he to be married to the 
Princess !" 

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnest- 
■ness of his nature on such subjects, in a most 
extraordinary voice between laughing and cry- 
ing ; and to see his heightened and excited face ; 
would have been a surprise to his business 
friends in the city, indeed. 

•'There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. 
" Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like 
a lettuce growing out of the top of his head ; 
there he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called 
him, when he came home again after sailing 
round the island. ' Poor Robin Crusoe, where 
have you been, Robin Crusoe "! The man 
thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It 
-was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, 
running for his life to the little creek ! Halloa ! 
Hoop ! Halloa !" 

Then, with a rapidity of transition very for- 
eign to his usual character, he said, in pity for 
his former self, " Poor boy !" and cried again. 

" I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand 
in his pocket, and looking about him, after dry- 
ing his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late 
now." 

"What is the matter 1" asked the Spirit. 

" Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There 
was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door 
last night. I should like to have given him 
something ; that's all." 

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its 
hand ; saying as it did so, " Let us see anollier 
Christmas !" 

Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, 
-and the room became a little darker and more 
dirty. The pannels shrunk, the windows crack- 



ed ; fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling, 
and the naked laths were shown instead ; but 
how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew 
no more than you do. He only knew that it 
was quite correct ; that everything had hap- 
pened so ; that there he was, alone again, when 
all the other boys had gone home again for the 
jolly holidays. 

He was not reading now, but walking up 
and down despairingly. Scrooge looked at the 
Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, 
glanced anxiously towards the door. 

It opened ; and a little girl, much younger 
than the boy, came darting in, and putting her 
arms about his neck, and often kissing him, ad- 
dressed him as her " Dear, dear brother." 

" I have come to bring you home, dear broth- 
er I" said the child, clapping her tiny hands, and 
bending down to laugh. " To bring you home, 
home, home !" 

"Home, little Fan'!" returned the boy. 
" Yes !" said the child, brimful of glee. 
" Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and 
ever. Father is so much kinder than he used 
to be, that home's like Heaven ! He spoke so 
gently to me one dear night when I was going 
to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once 
more if you might come home ; and he said 
Yes, you should ; and sent me in a coach to 
bring you. And you're to be a man !" said the 
child, opening her eyes, " and are never to come 
back here ; but first, we're to be together all 
the Christmas long, and have the merriest time 
in all the world." 

"You are quite a woman, little Fan!" ex- 
claimed the boy. 

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried 
to touch his head ; but being too little, laughed 
again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then 
she began to drag him, in her childish eager- 
ness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth 
to go, accompanied her. 

A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bringdown 
Master Scrooge's box, there !" and in the hall 
appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared 
on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescen- 
sion, and threw him into a dreadful state of 
mind by shaking hands with him. He then 
conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old 
well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was 
seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the 
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, 
were waxy with cold. Here he produced a de- 
canter of curiously light wine, and a block of 
curiously heavy cake, and administered instal- 
ments of those dainties to the young people : at 
the same time, sending out a meagre servant to 
offer a glass of " something" to the postboy, who 
answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if 
it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he 
had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being 
by this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the 
children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right 
willingly ; and getting into it, drove gaily down 
the garden-sweep, the quick wheels dashing the 
hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of 
the evergreens like spray. 

" Always a delicate creature, whom a breath 
might have withered," said the Ghost, " But 
she had a large heart !" 

" So she had," cried Scrooge. " You're right. 
I'll not gainsay it. Spirit. God forbid !" 



" She died a woman," said the Ghost, " and 
had, as I think, children." 

"One child," Scrooge returned. 

" True," said the Ghost. " Your nephew !" 

Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind, and an- 
swered briefly, "Yes." 

Although they had but that moment left the 
school behind them, they were now in the busy 
thoroughfares of the city, where shadowy pas- 
sengers passed and repassed ; where shadowy 
earts and coaches battled for the way, and all 
the strife and tumult of a real city were. It 
was made plain enough, by the dressing of the 
shops, that here too it was Christmas time 
again ; but it was evening, and the streets were 
lighted up. 

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse 
door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it. 

" Know it !" said Scrooge. " Was I appren- 
ticcd hcrG^" 

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman 
in a Welch wig, sitting behind such a high desk, 
that if he had been two inches taller he must 
have knocked his head against the ceiling, 
Scrooge cried in great excitement : 

" Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart ; 
it's Fezziwig alive again !" 

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked 
up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of 
seven. He rubbed his hands ; adjusted his 
capacious waistcoat ; laughed all over himself, 
from his shoes to his organ of benevolence ; 
and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, 
jovial voice : 

"Yo ho, there! Ebenezer ! Dick!" 

Scrooge's former self, now grown a young 
man, came briskly in, accompanied by his fel- 
low-'prentice. 

" Dick Wilkins, to be sure !" said Scrooge to 
the Ghost. " Bless me, yes. There he is. He 
was very much attached to me, was Dick. 
Poor Dick ! Dear, dear !" 

"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No 
more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. 
Christmas, Ebenezer ! Let's have the shutters 
up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of 
his hands, " before a man can say, Jack Rob- 
inson !" 

You would'nt believe how those two fellows 
went at it ! They charged into the street with 
the shutters — one, two, three — had 'em up in 
their places — four, five, six — barred 'em and 
pinned 'em — seven, eight, nine — and came back 
before you could have got to twelve, panting 
like race-horses. 

"Hilli-hol" cried old Fezziwig, skipping 
down from the high desk, with wonderful agil- 
ity. " Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots 
of room here ! Hilli-ho, Dick ! Chirrup, Ebe- 
nezer !" 

Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't 
have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared 
away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was 
done in a minute. Every moveable was packed 
off, as if it were dismissed from public life for 
evermore ; the floor was swept and watered, 
the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon 
the fiire ; and the warehouse was as snug, and 
warm, and dry, and briglit a ball-room, as you 
would desire to see upon a winter's night. 

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and 
went up to the lofty desk, and made an orches- 



AS CAROL. 

tra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. Itr 
came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile- 
In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and 
loveable. In came the six young followers 
whose hearts they broke. In came all the 
young men and women employed in the busi- 
ness. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, 
the baker. In came the cook, with her broth- 
er's particular friend, the milkman. In came- 
the boy from over the way, who was suspected 
of not having board enough from his master ; 
trying to hide himself behind the girl from next 
door but one, who was proved to have had her 
ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, 
one after another ; some shyly, some boldly,, 
some gracefully, some awkwardly, some push- 
ing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow 
and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty 
couple at once, hands half round and back again 
the other way ; down the middle and up again ; 
round and round in various stages of affection- 
ate grouping ; old top couple always turning up 
in the wrong place ; new top couple starting 
off again as soon as they got there ; all top 
couples at last, and not a bottom one to help 
them. When this result was brought about, old 
Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, 
cried out, " well done !" and the fiddler plunged 
his hot face into a pot of porter, especially pro- 
vided for that purpose. But, scorning rest upon 
his reappearance, he instantly began again, 
though there were no dancers yet, as if the 
other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, 
on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man, re- 
solved to beat him out of sight or perish. 

There were more dances, and there were for- 
feits, and more dances ; and there was cake,- 
and there was negus, and there was a great 
piece of cold roast, and there was a great piece- 
of cold boiled, and there were mince pies, and 
plenty of beer. But the great effect of the even- 
ing came after the roast and boilod, when the 
fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! the sort of man 
who knew his business better than you or I 
could have told it him) struck up " Sir Roger de 
Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out ta 
dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too ; 
with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them ; 
three or four and twenty pair of partners ; people 
who were not to be trifled with ; people who 
would dance, and had no notion of walking. 

But if they had been twice as many, ah ! four 
times, old Fezziwig would have been a match 
for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to 
her, she was worthy to be his partner in every 
sense of the term. If that's not high praise, 
tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive light 
appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They 
shone in every part of the dance like moons. 
You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, 
what would become of 'em next. And when 
old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all 
through the dance — advance and retire, hold 
hands with your partner, bow and courtesy, 
corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to 
your place — Fezziwig " cut," cut so deftly, that 
he appeared to wink with his legs, and came 
upon his feet again without a stagger. 

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic 
ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took 
their statigns, one on either side the door, and, 
shaking hands with every person individually 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



13 



as he or she went out, wished him or her a 
merry Chiistmas. When everybody had re- 
tired but the two 'prentices, they did the same 
to them ; and thus the cheerful voices died 
away, and the lads were left to their beds, 
which were under a counter in the back shop. 

During the whole of this time, Scrooge, had 
acted like a man out of his wits. His heart 
and soul were in the scene, and with his former 
self. He corroborated everything, remembered 
everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent 
the strangest agitation. It was not until now, 
when the briglit faces of his former self and 
Dick were turned from them, that he remember- 
ed the Ghost, and became conscious that it was 
looking full upon him, while the hght upon its 
head burned very clear. 

" A small matter," said the Ghost, " to make 
these silly folks so fuU of gratitude." 

" SmalH" echoed Scrooge. 

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two 
apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts 
in praise of Fezziwig ; and when he had done 
so, said, 

" Why ! Is it not 1 He has spent but a few 
pounds of your mortal money : three or four, 
perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this 
praised" 

" It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the 
remark, and speaking unconsciously like his 
former, not his latter, self. " It isn't that, 
Spirit. He has the power to render us happy 
or unhappy ; to make our service light or bur- 
densome ; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his 
power lies in words and looks ; in things so 
slight and insignificant that it is impossible to 
add and count 'em up : what then ! The hap- 
piness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a 
fortune." 

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped. 

" What is the matter 1" asked the Ghost. 

" Nothing particular," said Scrooge. 

" Something, I think 1" the Ghost insisted. 

" No," said Scrooge, " No. I should like to 
be able to say a word or two to my clerk just 
now ! That's aU !" 

His former self turned down the lamps as he 
gave utterance to the wish ; and Scrooge and 
the Ghost again stood side by side in the open 
air. 

" Mv time grows short," observed the Spirit. 
" Quick !" 

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any 
one whom he could see, but it produced an im- 
mediate efTect. For again Scrooge saw him- 
self He was older now ; a man in the prime 
of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid 
lines of later years ; but it had begun to wear 
the signs of care and avarice. There was an 
eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which 
showed the passion that had taken root, and 
where the shadow of the growing tree would 
fall. 

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a 
fair young girl in a morning-dress : in whose 
eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the 
light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas 
Past. 

"It matters little," she said, softly. "To 
you, very little. Another idol has displaced 
me ; and if it can cheer and comfort you in 
time to come, as I would have tried to do, I 
have no just cause to grieve." 



"What Idol has displaced you ]" he rejoined. 
" A golden one." 

" This is the even-handed dealing of the 
world !" he said. " There is nothing on which 
it is so hard as poverty ; and there is nothing it 
professes to condemn with such severity as the 
pursuit of wealth !" 

" You fear the world too much," she answer- 
ed, gently. " All your other hopes have merged 
into the hope of being beyond the chance of its 
sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspi- 
rations fall off one by one, until the master- 
passion. Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?" 

" What then V he retorted. " Even if I have 
grown so much wiser, what theni I am not 
changed towards you." 

She shook her head. 

"Am JV 

" Our contract is an old one. It was made 
when we were both poor and content to be so^ 
until, in good season, we could improve our 
worldly fortune by our patient industry. You 
are changed. When it was made, you were an- 
other man." 

" I was a boy," he said impatiently. 

" Your own feeling tells you that you were 
not what you are," she returned. " I am. 
That which promised happiness when we were 
one in heart, is fraught with misery now that 
we are two. How often and how keenly I 
have thought of this, I will not say. It is 
enough that I have thought of it, and can re- 
lease you." 

" Have I ever sought release V 

" In words. No. Never." 

"In what, thenr' 

" In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ; 
in another atmosphere of hfe ; another Hope as 
its great end. In everything that made my 
love of any worth or value in your sight. If 
this had never been between us," said the girl, 
looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him ; 
" tell me, would you seek me out and try to 
win me nowl Ah, no !" 

He seemed to yield to the justice of this sup- 
position, in spite of himself. But he said, with 
a struggle, " You think not." 

" I would gladly think otherwise if I could," 
she answered, " Heaven knows ! When I have- 
learned a Truth like this, I know how strong 
and irresistible it must he. But if you were 
free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I 
believe that you would choose a dowerless girl 
— you who, in your very confidence with her, 
weigh everything by Gain : or, choosing her, if 
for a moment you were false enough to your 
one guiding principle to do so, do I not know 
tliat your repentance and regret would surely 
follow \ I do ; and I release you. With a full 
heart, for the love of him you once were." 

He was about to speak ; but with her head 
turned from him, she resumed. 

" You may — the memory of what is past half 
makes me hope you will — have pain in this. A 
very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the 
recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable 
dream, from which it happened well that you 
awoke. May you be happy in the hfe you have 
chosen V 

She left him ; and they parted. 

" Spirit !" said Scrooge, " show me no more ! 
Conduct me home. Why do you delight to 
torture me V 



16 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



" One shadow more !" exclaimed the Ghost. 

" No more !" cried Scoorge. " No more, I 
don't wish to see it. Show me no more !" 

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both 
his arms, and forced him to observe what hap- 
pened next. 

They were in another scene and place : a 
room, not very large or handsome, but full of 
comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beauti- 
ful young girl, so like the last that Scrooge be- 
lieved it was the same, until he saw her, now a 
comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. 
The noise in this room was perfectly tumultu- 
ous, for there were more children there, than 
Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could 
count ; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the 
poem, they were not forty children conducting 
themselves like one, but every child was con- 
ducting itself like forty. The consequences 
were uproarious beyond belief; but no one 
seemed to care ; on the contrary, the mother 
and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it 
-very much ; and the latter, soon beginning to 
mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young 
brigands most ruthlessly. What would I not 
have given to be one of theim ! Though I 
never could have been so rude, no, no ! I 
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have 
crushed that braided hair, and torn it down ; 
and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have 
plucked it off, God bless my soul ! to save my 
life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as 
they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have 
done it ; I should have expected my ann to 
have grown round it for a punishment, and 
never come straight again. And yet I should 
have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her 
lips ; to have questioned her, that she might 
have opened them ; to have looked upon the 
lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised 
a blush ; to have let loose waves of hair, an 
inch of which would be a keepsake beyond 
price : in short, I should have liked, I do con- 
fess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, 
and yet been man enough to know its value. 

But now a knocking at the door was heard, 
and such a rush immediately ensued that she 
■with laugliing face and plundered dress was 
borne towards it the centre of a flushed and 
boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, 
who, came home attended by a man laden with 
Christmas toys and presents. Then the shout- 
ing and the struggling, and the onslaught that 
was made on the defenceless porter ! The 
scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive 
into his pockets, despoil him of brown-p^per 
parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him 
round the neck, pommel his back, and kick his 
legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of 
•wonder and delight with which the develop- 
ment of every package was received ! The 
terrible announcement that the baby had been 
taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan 
into his mouth, and was more than suspected 
of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued 
on a wooden platter ! The immense relief of 
finding this a false alarm ! The joy, and grati- 
tude, and ecstacy ! They are all indescribable 
alike. It is enough that by degrees the children 
and their emotions got out of the parlour and 
by one s'.air at a time, up to the top of the 
house ; where they went to bed, and so sub- 
sided. 



And now Scrooge loo'ked on more attentively 
than ever, when the master of the house, having 
his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down 
with her and her mother at his own fireside ; 
and when he thought that such another crea- 
ture, quite as graceful and as full of promise, 
might have called him father, and been a spring- 
time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight 
grew very dim indeed. 

" Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife 
with a smile, " I saw an old friend of yours this 
afternoon." 

" Who was it V 

(t Quess !" 

" How can I 'i Tut, don't I know," she added 
in the same breath, laughing as he laughed. 
" Mr. Scrooge." 

" Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office- 
window ; and as it was not shut up, and he had 
a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him. 
His partner lies upon the point of death, I hear ; 
and there he sat, alone. Quite alone in the 
world, I do believe." 

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, in a broken voice, 
" remove me from this place." 

" I told you these were shadows of the things 
that have been," said the Ghost. " That they 
are what they are, do not blame me !" 

" Remove me !" Scrooge exclaimed. " I 
cannot bear it !" 

He turned upon the Ghost, and, seeing that 
it looked upon him with a face in which, in some 
strange way, there were fragments of all the 
faces it had shown him, wrestled with it. 

" Leave me ! Take me back ! Haunt me 
no longer !" 

In the struggle, if that can be called a strug- 
gle in which the Ghost, with no visible resis- 
tance on its own part, was undisturbed by any 
effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed that 
its light was burning high and bright ; and dimly 
connecting that with its infiuence over him, he 
seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden 
action pressed it down upon its head. 

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the ex- 
tinguisher covered its whole form ; but though 
Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he 
could not hide the light, which streamed from 
under it, in an unbroken flood, upon the ground. 

He was conscious of being exhausted, and 
overcome by an irresistible drowsiness ; and, 
farther, of being in his own bedroom. He gave 
the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand re- 
laxed ; and had barely time to reel to bed, before 
he sank into a heavy sleep. 



STAVE THREE. 

THE SECOND OF THE THKEE SPIRITS. 

Awaking in t he middle of a prodigiously tough 
snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts 
together, Scrooge had no occasion to he told 
that the bell was again upon the stroke of One. 
He felt that he was restored to consciousness 
in the right nick of time, for the especial pur- 
pose of holding a conference with the second 
messenger despatched to him through Jacob 
Marley's intervention. But, finding that he 
turned uncomfoitably cold when he began to 
wonder which of his curtains this new spectre 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



17 



would draw back, he put them every one aside 
with his own hands ; and, lying down again, 
established a sharp look-out all round tlie bed. 
Tor he wished to challenge the Spirit on the 
moment of its appearance, and did not wish to 
be talcen by surprise and made nervous. 
' Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who 
plume themselves on being acquainted with a 
move or two, and being usually equal to the 
time-of-day, express the wide range of their 
capacity for adventure by observing that they 
are good for anything from piteh-and-toss to 
manslaughter; between which opposite ex- 
tremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide 
and comprehensive range of subjects. With- 
out venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as 
this, I don't mind caHing on you to believe that 
he was ready for a good broad field of strange 
appearances, and that nothing between a baby 
and a rhinoceros would have astonished him 
very much. 

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he 
was not by any means prepared for nothing ; 
and, consequently, when the Bell struck One, 
and no shape appeared, he was taken with a 
violent fit of trembling. Five minutes, ten 
minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet no- 
thing came. All this time, he lay upon his bed, 
the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy 
light, which streamed upon it when the clock 
proclaimed the hour ; and which being only 
light, was more alarming than a dozen ghosts, 
as he vf)^s powerless to make out what it meant, 
-or would be at ; and was sometimes apprehen- 
sive that he might be at that very moment an 
interesting case of spontaneous combustion, 
without having the consolation of knowing it. 
At last, however, he began to think — as you or 
I would have thought at first ; for it is always 
the person not in the predicament who knows 
what ought to have been done in it, and would 
unquestionably have done it too — at last, I say, 
he began to think that the source and secret of 
this ghostly light might be in the adjoining 
room : from whence, on further tracing it, it 
seemed to shine. This idea taking full pos- 
session of his mind, he got up softly and shuffled 
in his slippers to the door. 

The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock, 
a strange voice called him by his name, and 
bade him enter. He obeyed. 

It was his own room. There was no doubt 
about that. But it had undergone a surprising 
transformation. The walls and ceiling were so 
hung with living green, that it looked a perfect 
^rove, from every part of which, bright gleam- 
ing berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, 
mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if 
so many little mirrors had been scattered there ; 
and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the 
chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth 
had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, 
or for many and many a winter season gone. 
Heaped up upon the floor, to form a kind of 
throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, 
brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long 
wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-pud- 
dings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chesnuts, 
cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious 
pears, iminense twelfth-cakes, and seething 
bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim 
with their delicious steam. In easy state upon 



this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to 
see ; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not 
unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to 
shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping 
round the door. 

" Come in !" exclaimed the Ghost. " Come 
in ! and know me better, man !" 

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head 
before this Spirit. He was not the dogged 
Scrooge he had been ; and though its eyes were 
clear and kind, he did not like to meet them. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said 
the Spirit. " Look upon me !" 

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed 
in one simple deep green robe, or mantle, bor- 
dered with white fur. This garment hung so 
loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast 
was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or con- 
cealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable be- 
neath the ample folds of the garment, were also 
bare ; and on its head it wore no other cover- 
ing than a holly wreath set here and there with 
shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were 
long and free ; free as its genial face, its spark- 
ling eye, its open hand, its cherry voice, its un- 
constrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Gird- 
ed round its middle was an antique scabbard ; 
but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath 
was eaten up with rust. 

" You have never seen the like of me before !" 
exclaimed the Spirit. 

"Never," Scrooge made answer to it. 

" Have never walked forth with the younger 
members of my family ; meaning (for I am very 
young) my elder brothers born in these later 
years 1" pursued the Phantom. 

" I don't think I have," said Scrooge. " I am 
afraid I have not. Have you had many broth- 
ers. Spirit!" 

"More than eighteen hundred," said the 
Ghost. 

" A tremendous family to provide for !" mut- 
tered Scrooge. 

The Ghost of Christmast Present rose. 

"Spirit," said Scrooge submissively, "con- 
duct me where you will. I went forth last 
night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which 
is working now. To-night, if you have aught 
to teach me, let me profit by it." 

" Touch my robe !" 

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast. 

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, 
geese, game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausa- 
ges, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and punch, 
all vanished instantly. So did tlie room, the 
fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of night, and they 
stood in the city streets on Christmas morning, 
where (for the weather was severe) the people 
made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant 
kind of music, in scraping the snow from the 
pavement in front of their dwellings, and from 
the tops of their houses : whence it was mad 
delight to the boys to see it come plumping 
down into the road below, and splitting into ar- 
tificial little snow-storms. 

The house fronts looked black enough, and 
the windows blacker, contrasting with the 
smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs, 
and with the dirtier snow upon the ground ; 
which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep 
furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and wag- 
ons ; furrows that crossed and recrossed each 



18 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



other hundreds of times where the great streets 
branched off, and made intricate channels, hard 
to trace, in tlie thick yellow mud and icy water. 
The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets 
were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed, 
half frozen, whose heavier particles descended 
in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chim- 
neys in Great Britain had, by one consent, 
caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear 
hearts' content. There was nothing very cheer- 
fid in the climate or the town, and yet was 
there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the 
clearest summer air and brightest summer sun 
might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. 

For the people who were shovelling away on 
the house-tops were jovial and full of glee ; call- 
ing out to one another from the parapets, and 
now and then exchanging a facetious snowball 

better natured missile far than many a wordy 

^est— laughing heartily if it went right, and not 
less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers' 
shops were still half open, and the fruiterers' 
were radiant in their glory. There were great, 
round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped 
like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolhng 
at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in 
their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, 
brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, 
shining in the fatness of their growth like Span- 
ish Friars ; and winking from their shelves in 
wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and 
glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. 
There were pears and apples, clustered high in 
blooming pyramids ; there were bunches of 
grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' benevolence, 
to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's 
mouths might water gratis as they passed ; 
there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, 
recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among 
the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep 
through withered leaves ; there were Norfolk 
Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yel- 
low of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great 
compactness of their juicy persons, urgently en 
treating and beseeching to be carried home in 
paper bags and eaten after dinner. The very 
gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice 
fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and 
stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that 
there was something going on ; and, to a fish, 
went gasping round and round their little world 
in slow and passionless excitement. 

The Grocers' ! oh the Grocers' ! nearly 
closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or 
one ; but through those gaps such glimpses 
It was not alone that the scales descending 
on the counter made a merry sound, or that 
the twine and roller parted company so briskly, 
or that the canisters were rattled up and down 
like juggling tricks, or even that the blended 
scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the 
nose, or even that the raisins were so plentifnl 
and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the 
sticks of cinnamon so long and straight, the 
other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so 
caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make 
the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subse- 
quently bilious. Nor was it that the figs were 
moist and pulpy, or that the French plums 
blushed in modest tartness from their highly- 
decorated boxes, or that everything was good 
to eat and in its Christmas dress : but the cus- 



tomers were all so hurried and so eager in ther 
hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled 
up against each other at the door, clashing their 
wicker baskets wildly, and left their purchase* 
upon the counter, and came running back to 
fetch them, and committed hundreds of the liko 
mistakes in the best humour possible ; while 
the Grocer and his people were so frank and 
fresh that the polished hearts with which they 
fastened their aprons behind might have been 
their own, worn outside for general inspection, 
and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose. 

But soon the steeples called good people all,-, 
to church and chapel, and away they came,, 
flocking through the streets in their best clothes, 
and with their gayest faces. And at the same 
time there emerged from scores of bye streets, 
lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable peo- 
ple, carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops.. 
The sight of these poor revellers appeared to- 
interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with 
.Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and. 
taking off the covers as their bearers passed, 
sprinkled incense on their dinners from his 
torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of 
torch, for once or twice when there were angry 
words between some dinner-carriers who had 
jostled with each other, he shed a few drops of 
water on them from it, and their good humour- 
was restored directly. For they said, it was a. 
shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And 
so it was ! God love it, so it was ! 

In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were 
shut up ; and yet there was a genial shadowing 
forth of all these dinners and the progress of 
their cooking, in the thawed blotch of wet above 
each baker's oven ; where the pavement smoked 
as if its stones were cooking too. 

Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprin- 
kle from your torch V asked Scrooge. 
" There is. My own." 
"Would it apply to any kind of dinner on 
this day 1" asked Scrooge. 

" To any kindly given. To a poor one most." 
"Why to a poor one most 1" asked Scrooge. 
" Because it needs it most." 
" Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's 
thought, "I wonder you, of all the beings in the 
many worlds about us, should desire to cramp 
these people's opportunities of innocent enjoy- 
ment !" 

"I !" cried the Spirit. 

" You would deprive them of their means of 
dining on every seventh day, often the only day 
on which they can be said to dine at all," said 
Scrooge. " Wouldn't you ?" 
" I !" cried the Spirit. 

" You seek to close these places on llio 
Seventh Day !" said Scrooge. "And it comes 
to the same thing." 

" / seek !" exclaimed the Spirit. 
" Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been 
done in your name, or, at least, in that of your 
family," said Scrooge. 

" 'Tliere are some upon this earth of yours," 
returned the Spirit, " who lay claim to know us, 
and who do tlieir deeds of passion, pride, ill- 
will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in 
our name ; who are as strange to us and all our 
kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Re- 
member that, and charge their doings on them- 
selves, not us." 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



19 



Scrooge promised that he would ; and they 
went on, invisible, as they had been before, into 
the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable 
quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had ob- 
served at the baker's) that, notwithstanding his 
gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to 
any place with ease ; and that he stood beneath 
a low roof quite as gracefully and like a super- 
natural creature, as it was possible he could 
have done in any lofty hall. 

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good 
Spirit had in showing off this power of his, or 
else it was his own kind, generous, hearty na- 
ture, and his sympathy with all poor men, that 
led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's ; for there 
he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to 
his robe ; and on the threshold of the door the 
Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's 
dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. Think 
of that ! Bob had but fifteen " Bob" a week 
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen 
copies of his Christian name ; and yet the Ghost 
of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed 
house ! 

Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, 
dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, 
but brave in ribands, which are cheap and make 
a goodly show for sixpence ; and she laid the 
cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of 
her daughters, also brave iu ribands ; while 
Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the 
saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners 
of his monstrous shirt-collar (Bob's private pro- 
perty, conferred upon his son and heir in honour 
of the day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find him- 
self so gallantly attired, and yearned to show 
his linen in the fashionable Parks. And now 
two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tear- 
ing in, screaming that outside the baker's they 
had smelt the goose, and known it for their 
own ; and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage- 
and-onions, these young Cratchits danced about 
the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to 
the skies, while he (not proud, a.h,hough his col- 
lars nearly choked him) blew the fire, until the 
slow potatoes, bubbling up, knocked proudly at 
the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled. 

" What has ever got your precious father, 
theni" said Mrs. Cratchit. " And your brother. 
Tiny Tim ; and Martha warn't as late last 
Christmas Day by half an-hour !" 

"Here's Martha, mother!" said a girl, ap- 
pearing as she spoke. 

" Here's Martha, mother !" cried the two 
young Cratchits. " Hurrah ! There's such a 
goose, Martha !" 

" Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how 
late you are!" said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her 
a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and 
bonnet for her, with officious zeal. 

" We'd a deal of work to finish up last night," 
replied the girl, " and had to clear away this 
morning, mother !" 

"Well! Never mind so long as you are 
come," said Mrs. Cratchit.. "Sit ye down be- 
fore the fire, my dear, and have a warm. Lord 
bless ye !" 

" No, no ! There's father coming," cried the 
two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at 
once. " Hide Martha, hide !" 

So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, 
the father, with at least three feet of cotnforter 



exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before 
him ; and his thread-bare clothes darned up and 
brushed, to look seasonable*; and Tiny Tim 
upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore 
a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by 
an iron frame !" 

"Why, Where's our Martha 1" cried Bob 
Cratchit looking round. 

" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

"Not coming !" said Bob, with a sudden de- 
clension in his high spirits ; for he had been 
Tim's blood horse all the way from church, and 
had come home rampant. "Not coming upoa 
Christmas Day !" 

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if 
it were only in joke ; so she came out prema- 
turely from behind the closet door, and ran into 
his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled 
Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash- 
house, that he might hear the pudding singing 
in the copper. 

"And how did Uttle Tim behaved' asked 
Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his 
credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to 
his heart's content. 

" As good as gold," said Bob, " and better. 
Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself 
so much, and thinks the strangest things you 
overheard. He told me, coming home, that he 
hoped tlie people saw him in the church, be- 
cause lie was a cripple, and it might be pleas- 
ant to them to remember upon Christmas Day 
who made lame beggars walk, and blind men 
see." 

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them 
this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny 
Tim was growing strong and hearty. 

His active little crutch was heard upon the 
floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another 
word was spoken, escorted by his brother and 
sister to his stool beside the fire ; and while 
Bob, turning up his cuffs, as if, poor fellow, they 
were capable of being made more shabby — com- 
pounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin 
and lemons, and stirred it round and round, and 
put it on the hob to simmer ; Master Peter and 
the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to 
fetch the goose, with which they soon returned 
in high procession. 

Such a bustle ensued that you might have 
thought a goose the rarest of all birds ; a feath- 
ered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a 
matter of course ; and, in truth, it was some- 
thing very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit, 
made the gravy (ready before-hand in a little 
saucepan) hissing hot ; Master Peter mashed 
the potatoes with incredible vigour ; Miss Be- 
linda sweetened up the apple-sauce ; Martha 
dusted the hot plates ; Bob took Tiny Tim be- 
side him in a tiny corner at the table ; the two 
young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not 
forgetting themselves, and, mounting guard 
upcn their posts, crammed spoons into their 
mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before 
their turn came to be helped. At last the dish- 
es were set on, and grace was said. It was 
succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratch- 
it, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, 
prepared to plunge it in the breast ; but when 
she did, and when the long-expected gush of 
stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight 
arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, 



20 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



excited by the two young Cratcliits, beat on the 
table with the handle of his knife, and feebly 
cried Hurrah ! 

There never was such a goose. Bob said 
he didn't believe there ever was such a goose 
cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and 
cheapness, were the themes of universal admi- 
ration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and 
mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for 
the whole family ; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit 
said with great delight (surveying one small 
atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate 
it all at last ! Yet every one had had enough, 
and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were 
steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows ! 
But now, the plates being changed by Miss 
Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone— too 
nervous to bear witnesses— to take the pudding 
up, and bring it in. 

Suppose it should not be done enough ! Sup- 
pose it should break in turning out ! Suppose 
somebody should have got over the wall of the 
back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry 
■with the goose : a supposition at which the two 
young Cratchits became livid ! All sorts of 
horrors were supposed. 

Hallo ! A great deal of steam ! The pudding 
was out of the copper. A smell like a washing- 
day ! That was the cloth. A smell like an 
eating-house, and a pastry cook's next door to 
each other, with a laundress's next door to 
that 1 That was the pudding. In half a minute 
Mrs. Cratchit entered : flushed, but smiling 
proudly : with the pudding, like a speckled 
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half 
of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and be- 
dight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. 

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, 
and calmly too, that he regarded it as the 
greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit 
since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that 
now the weight was ofT her mind, she would 
confess she had had her doubts about the quan- 
tity of flour. Everybody had something to say 
about it, but nobody said or thought it was at 
all a small pudding for a large family. It would 
have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit 
would have blushed to hint at such a thing. 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was 
cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. 
The compound in the jug being tasted and con- 
sidered perfect, apples and oranges were put 
upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on 
the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew 
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called 
a circle, meaning half a one ; and at Bob Cratch- 
it's elbow stood the family display of glass ; two 
tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle. 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, how- 
ever, as well as golden goblets would have done ; 
and Bob served it out with beaming looks, 
while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and 
crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed : 

" A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. 
Go4 bless us !" 

Which all the family re-echoed. 
" God bless us every one !" said Tiny Tim, 
the last of all. 

' He sat very close to his father's side, upon 
his little stool. Bob held his withered little 
kand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished 
to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he 
might be taken from him. 



" Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he 
had never felt before, "tell me if Tiny Tim will 
live." 

" I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, " in 
the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without 
an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows 
remain unaltered by the Future, the child will 
die." 

"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh no, kind 
Spirit ! say he will be spared." 

" If these shadows remain unaltered by the 
Future, none other of my race," returned the 
Ghost. " will find him here. What then 1 If 
he be like to die, he had better do it, and de- 
crease the surplus population." 

Scrooge hung his licad to hear his own words 
quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with 
penitence and grief. 

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in 
heart, not adamant, fiirbear that wicked cant 
until you have discovered What the surplus is, 
and Where it is. Will you decide what men 
shall live, and wliat men shall die 1 It may be, 
that in the sight of Heaven you are more worth- 
less and less fit to live than millions like this 
poor man's child. Oh God ! to hear the Insect 
on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life 
among his hungry brothers in the dust !" 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and 
trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. But 
he raised them speedily, on hearing his own 
name. 

" Mr. Scrooge V said Bob ; " I'll give you Mr. 
Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast !" 

" The Founder of the Feast indeed !" cried 
Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. " I wish I had him 
here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast 
upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for 
It." 

"My dear," said Bob, "the children ; Christ- 
mas Day." 

'■■ It should be Christmas Day, I am sure," 
said she, " on which one drinks the health of 
such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as 
Mr. Scrooge. You know he is Robert ! Nobody 
knows it better than you do, poor fellow 1" 

" My dear," was Bob's mild answer, " Christ- 
mas Day." 

" I'll drink his health for your sake and the 
Day's," said Mrs. Cratchit, " not for his. Long 
life to him ! A merry Christmas and a happy 
new year ! — he'll be very merry and very hap- 
py, I have no doubt I" 

The children drank the toast after her. It 
was the first of their proceedings which had no 
heartiness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of all, 
but he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge 
was the Ogre of the family. The mention of 
his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which 
was not dispelled for full five minutes. 

After it had passed away, they were ten 
times merrier than before, from the mere relief 
of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. Bob 
Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his 
eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if 
obtained, full five-and-sixpence weekly. The 
two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at 
the idea of Peter's being a man of business ; 
and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at llio 
fire from between his cohars, as if he were de- 
liberating what particular investments he should 
favour when he came into the receipt of that 



A christa: 

bewildering income. Martha, who was a poor 
apprentice at a milliner's, then told them what 
kind of work she had to do, and how many 
hours she worked at a stretch, and how she 
meant to lie abed, to-morrow morning for a good 
long rest ; to-morrow being a holiday she passed 
at home. Also how she had seen a countess 
and a lord some days before, and how the lord 
was much about as tall as Peter ;" at which 
Peter pulled up his collars so high that you 
couldn't have seen his head if you had been 
there. All this time the chestnuts and the jug 
went round and round ; and bye and bye they 
had a song, about a lost child travelling in the 
snow, from Tiny Tim ; who had a plaintive lit- 
tle voice, and sang it very well indeed. 

There was nothing of high mark in this. 
They were not a handsome family ; they were 
not well dressed ; their shoes were far from be- 
ing waterproof ; their clothes were scanty ; and 
Peter might have known, and very likely did, 
the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they were 
liappy, grateful, pleased with one another, and 
contented with the time ; and when they faded, 
and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings 
of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his 
eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, 
until the last. 

By this time it was getting dark, and snow- 
ing pretty heavily ; and Scrooge and the Spirit 
went along the streets, the brightness of the 
roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all sorts 
of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering 
of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy 
dinner, with hot plates baking through and 
through before the fire, and deep red curtains, 
ready to be drawn, to shut out cold and dark- 
ness. There, all the children of the house were 
running out into the snow to meet their married 
sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and be 
the first to greet them. Here, again, were 
shadows on the window-blind of guests assem- 
bling ; and there a group of handsome girls, all 
hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at 
once, tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's 
house ; where, wo upon the single man who 
saw thementer— artful witches: well they knew 
it — in a glow ! 

But if you had judged from the numbers of 
people on their way to friendly gatherings, you 
might have thought that no one was at home to 
give (hem friendly welcome when they got there, 
instead of every house expecting company, and 
piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings 
on it, how the Ghost exulted ! How it bared its 
breadth of breast, and opened its capacious palm, 
and floated on, outpouring, with a generous hand, 
its bright and harmless mirth on everything 
withm its reach ! The very lamplighter, who 
ran on before dotting the dusky street with 
specks of light, and who was dressed to spend 
the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly as 
the Spirit passed : though Iiltl« kenned the lamp- 
lighter that he had any company but Christmas ! 

And now, without a word of warning from the 
Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, 
where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast 
about, as though it were tlie burial-place of gi- 
ants ; and water spread itself wheresoever it 
listed — or would have done so, but for the frost 
that held it prisoner; and nothing grew but 
moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass. Down 



[AS CAROL. 21 

in the west the setting sun had left a streak of 
fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for aa 
instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, 
lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of 
darkest night. 

"What place is thisT' asked Scrooge. 
" A place where Miners live, who labour in 
the bowels of the earth," returned the Spirit. 
" But they know me. See !" 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and 
swiftly they advanced towards it. Passing 
through the wall of mud and stone, they found 
a cheerful company assembled round a glowing 
fire. ."Vn old, old man and woman, with their 
children and their children's children, and ano- 
ther generation beyond that, all decked out gaily 
in their holiday attire. The old man, in a voice 
that seldom rose above the hoviding of the wind 
upon the ban-en waste, was singing them a 
Christmas song ; it had been a very old song 
when he was a boy ; and from time to time they 
all joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised 
their voices, the old man got quite blithe and 
loud ; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour 
sank again. 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge 
hold his robe, and passing on above the moor, 
sped whither ^ Not to seal To sea. To 
Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last 
of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind 
them ; and his ears were deafened by the thun- 
dering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged 
among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and 
fiercely tried to undermine the earth. 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some 
league or so from the shore, on which the waters 
chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there 
stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of sea- 
weed clung to its base, and storm-birds — born 
of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of 
the water— rose and fell about it, like the waves 
they skimmed. 

But even here, two men who watched the 
light had made a fire, that through the loophole 
in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of bright- 
ness on the awful sea. Joining their horny 
hands over the rough table at which they sat, 
they wished each other a Merry Christmas in 
their can of grog ; and one of them : the elder, 
too, with his face all damaged and scarred with, 
hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship 
might be ; struck up a sturdy song that was like 
a Gale in itself 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and 
heaving sea— -on, on — until, being far away, as 
he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on 
a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the 
wheel, the look-out in the bow, the oflioers who 
had the watch ; dark, ghostly figures in their 
several stations ; but every man among them 
hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas 
thought, or spoke below his breath to his com- 
panion of some bygone Christmas Day, with, 
homeward hopes belonging to it. And every 
man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, 
had had a kinder word for another on that day 
than on any day in the year ; and had shared to 
some extent in its festivities ; and had remem- 
bered those he cared for at a distance, and had 
known that they delighted to remember him. 

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while 
listening to the moaning of the wind, and think- 



22 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



ing what a solemn thing it was to move on 
tlirough the lonely darkness over an unknown 
abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound 
as Death : it was a great surprise to Scrooge, 
while thus engaged, to hear a hearty laugh. 
It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to 
recognise it as his own nephew's, and to find 
himself in a bright, dry, gleaming room, with 
tlie Spirit standing smiling by his side, and 
looking at that same nephew with approving 
affability. 

" Ha, ha !" laughed Scrooge's nephew. " Ha, , 
ha, ha !" 

If yon should happen, by any unlikely chance, 
to know a man more blest in a laugh than 
Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like 
to know him, too. Introduce him to me, and 
I'll cultivate his acquaintance. 

It is a fair, evcn-lmnded, noble adjustment 
of things, that while there is infection in disease 
and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so ir- 
resistibly contagious as laughter and good-hu- 
mour. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in 
this way ; holding his sides, rolling his head, 
and twisting his face into the most extravagant 
contortions : Scrooge's niece, by marriage, 
laughed as heartily as he. And their assemlded 
friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out, 
lustily, 

" Ha, ha ! Ha, ha, ha, ha !" 

"He said that Christmas was a humbug, as 
I live !" cried Scrooge's nephew. " He believed 
it, too!" 

" More shame for him, Fred !" said Scrooge's 
niece, indignantly. Bless those women ; they 
never do anything by halves. They are always 
in earnest. 

She was very pretty : exceedingly pretty. 
With a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face ; 
a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be 
kissed — as no doubt it was ; all kinds of good 
little dots about her chin, that melted into one 
another when she laughed ; and the sunniest 
pair of eyes you ever saw in any little crea- 
ture's head. Altogether she was what you 
would have called provoking, you know ; but 
satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory ! 

" He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's 
nephew, " that's the truth ; and not so pleasant 
as he might be. However, his offences carry 
their own punishment, and I have nothing to 
say against him." 

" I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted 
Scrooge's niece. " At least you always tell me 
so," 

" What of that, my dear I" said Scrooge's 
nephew. " His wealth is of no use to him. He 
don't do any good with it. He don't make 
himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the 
satisfaction of thinking — ha, ha, ha ! — that he 
is ever going to benefit Us with it." 

" I have no patience with him," observed 
Scrooge's niece. Scrooge's niece's sisters, and 
all the other ladies, expressed the same opinion. 

" Oh, I have !" said Scrooge's nephew. " I 
am sorry for him ; I couldn't be angry with him 
if I tried. Who suffers by his ill whims 1 Him- 
self, always. Here, he takes it into his head to 
dislike us, and he won't come and dine with us. 
What's the consequence 1 He don't lose much 
of a dinner." 

"Indeed, I think he loses a very good din- 



ner," interrupted Scrooge's niece. Everybody 
else said the same, and they must be allowed 
to have been competent judges, because they 
had just had dinner ; and, with the dessert upon 
the table, were clustered round the fire, by lamp- 
light. 

" Well ! I am very glad to hear it," said 
Scrooge's nephew, " because I haven't any 
great faith in these young housekeepers. What 
do you say, Topper 1" 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of 
Scrooge's niece's sisters, for he answered that 
a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had 
no right to express an opinion on the subject. 
Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister — the plump 
one with the lace tucker : not the one with the 
roses — blushed. 

" Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece, 
clapping her hands. " He never finishes what 
he begins to say ! He is such a ridiculous fel- 
low !" 

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, 
and as it was impossible to keep the infection 
off; though the plump sister tried hard to do it 
with aromatic vinegar ; his example was unan- 
imously followed. 

"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's 
nephew, "that the consequence of his taking a 
dislike to us, and not making merry with us is, 
as I think, that he loses some pleasant mo- 
ments, which could do him no harm. I am 
sure he loses pleasanter companions than he 
can find in his own thoughts, either in his 
mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers. I 
mean to give him the same chance every year, 
whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He 
may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't 
help thinking better of it — I defy him— if he 
finds me going there, in good temper, year after 
year, and saying Uncle Scrooge, how are you 1 
If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor 
clerk fifty pounds, thafs something ; and I think 
I shook him yesterday." 

It was their turn to laugh now, at the notion 
of his shaking Scrooge. But being thoroughly 
good-natured, and not much caring what they 
laughed at, so that they laughed at any rate, he 
encouraged them in their merriment, and passed 
the bottle, joyously. 

After tea, they had some music. For they 
were a musical family, and knevi' what they 
were about, when they sung a Glee or Catch, 
I can assure you : especially Topper, who could 
growl away in the bass like a good one, and 
never swell the large veins in his forehead, or 
get red in the face over it. Scrooge's niece 
played well upon the harp ; and played among 
other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing : 
you might learn to whistle it in two minutes), 
which had been familiar to the child who fetch- 
ed Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had 
been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past. 
When this strain of music sounded, all the 
things that Ghost had shown him, came upon 
his mind; he softened more and more; and 
thought that if he could have listened to it oft- 
en, years ago, he might have cultivated the 
kindness of life for his own happiness with his 
own hands, without resorting to the sexton's 
spade that buried Jacob Marley. 

But they didn't devote the whole evening to 
music. After a while they played at forfeits ; 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



23 



for it is good to be children soraetimes, and 
never better than at Christmas, when its mighty 
Pounder was a child himself. Stop ! There 
-was first a game at blindman's bluff. Of course 
there was. And I no more believe Topper was 
Teally blind than I believe he had eyes in his 
boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing 
■between him and Scrooge's nephew ; and that 
the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The 
■way he went after that plump sister in the lace 
tucker, was an outrage on the credulity of hu- 
man nature. Knocking down the fire-irons, 
Tiumbling over the chairs, bumping up against 
the piano, smothering himself among the cur- 
tains, wherever she went, there went he. He 
-always knew where the plump sister was. He 
•wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen 
up against him, as some of them did, and stood 
there ; he would have made a feint of endeav- 
ouring to seize you, which would have been an 
aflront to your understanding ; and would in- 
stantly have sidled off in the direction of the 
plump sister. She often cried out that it wasn't 
fair ; and it really was not. But when, at last, 
he caught her ; when, in spite of all her silken 
rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he 
got her into a corner whence there was no es- 
<ape ; then his conduct was the most execrable. 
Tor his pretending not to know her; his pre- 
tending that it was necessary to touch her 
head-dress, and further to assure himself of her 
identity by pressing a certain ring upon her fin- 
ger, and a certain chain about her neck ; was 
vile, monstrous ! No doubt she told him her 
ophiion of it, when, another blindman being in 
office, they were so very confidential together, 
behind the curtains. 

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind- 
man's buff party, but was made comfortable 
with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug 
, corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close 
behind her. But she joined in the forfeits, and 
loved her love to admiration with all the letters 
■of the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How, 
"When, and Where, she was very great, and to 
the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her 
sisters hollow : though they were sharp girls 
too, as Topper could have told you. There 
-jnight have been twenty people there, young 
and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge ; 
for, wholly forgetting in the interest he had in 
what was going on, that his voice made no 
. sound in their ears, he sometimes came out 
with his guess quite loud, and very often guess- 
ed right, too ; for the sharpest needle, best 
"Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, 
■was not sharper than Scrooge : blunt as he 
took it in his head to be. 

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in 
this mood, and looked upon hira with such fa- 
vour that he begged like a boy to be allowed to 
stay until the guests departed. But this the 
Spirit said could not be done. 

" Here's a new game," said Scrooge. " One 
half hour. Spirit, only one !" 

It was a Game called Yes and No, where 
Scrooge's nephew had to think of something, and 
the rest must find out what ; he only answering 
to their questions yes or no as the case was. 
The brisk fire of questioning to which he was 
exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking 
.of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreea- 



ble animal, a savage animal, an animal that 
growled and grunted sometimes, and talked 
sometimes, and lived in London, and walked 
about the streets, and wasn't made a show of, 
and wasn't led by anybody, and didn't live in a 
menagerie, and was never killed in a market, 
and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a 
bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a 
bear. At every fresh question that was put to 
him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laugh- 
ter ; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that he 
was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. 
At last the plump sister, falling into a similar 
state, cried out : 

" I have found it out ! I know ■^vhat it is, 
Fred ! I know what it is !" 

"What is it V cried Fred. 

" It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge !" 

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the 
universal sentiment, though some objected that 
the reply to " Is it a bear V ought to have been 
" Yes ;" inasmuch as an answer in the negative 
was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts 
from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had 
any tendency that way. 

" He has given us plenty of merriment, I am 
sure," said Fred, "and it would be ungrateful 
not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mull- 
ed wine ready to our hand at the moment ; and 
1 say 'Uncle Scrooge !' " 

" Well ! Uncle Scrooge !" they cried. 

" A Merry Christmas and a happy New Year 
to the old man, whatever he is !" said Scrooge's 
nephew. " He wouldn't take it from me, but 
maybe have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge !" 

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so 
gay and light of heart, that he would have 
pledged the unconscious company in return, and 
thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost 
had given him time. But the whole scene pass- 
ed off in the breath of the last word spoken by 
his nephew ; and he and the Spirit were again 
upon their travels. 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many 
homes they visited, but always with a happy 
end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and 
they were cheerful ; on foreign lands, and they 
were close at home ; by struggling men, and 
they were patient in their greater hope ; by 
poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, hos- 
pital, and jail, in misery's every refuge, where 
vain man in his little brief authority had not 
made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, 
he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his 
precepts. 

It was a long night, if it were only a night ; 
but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the 
Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed 
into the space of time they passed together. It 
was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained 
unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew 
older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this 
change, but never spoke of it, untd they left a 
children's Twelfth Night party, when, looking 
at the Spirit as they stood together in an open 
place, he noticed that its hair was gray. 

" Are spirits' lives so short"!" asked Scrooge. 

"My life upon this globe is very brief," re- 
plied the Ghost. " It ends to-night." 

"To-night !" cried Scrooge. 

" To-night at midnight. Hark ! The time i» 
drawing near." 



24 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



The chimes were ringing the three quarters 
past eleven at that moment. 

"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I 
ask," said Scrooge, loolcing intently at the Spir- 
it's robe, " but I see something strange, and not 
belonging to yourself, protruding from your 
skirts. Is it a foot or a claw !" 

" It might be a claw, for the flesh there is 
upon it," was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. "Look 
here.' 

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two 
children ; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, 
miserable. They knelt at ks feet, and clung 
upon the outside of its garment. 

"Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down 
here !" exclaimed the Ghost. 

There were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, 
ragged, scowling, wolfish ; but prostrate, too, in 
thefr humility. Where graceful youth should 
have filled their features out, and touched them 
with its fresh tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, 
like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, 
and pulled them into shreds. Where angels 
might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and 
glared out menacing. No change, no degrada- 
tion, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, 
through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, 
has monsters half so horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them 
shown to him in this way, he tried to say they 
were fine children, but the words choked them- 
selves, rather than be parties to a lie of such 
enormous magnitude. 

"S|)irit! are they yours 1" Scrooge could say 
no more. 

" They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking 
down upon them. " And they cling to me, ap- 
pealing from their fathers. This boy is Igno- 
rance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, 
and all of their degree, but most of all beware 
this boy, for on his brow I see that written 
which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. 
Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its 
hand towards the city. " Slander those who 
tell it ye ! Admit it for your factious purposes, 
and make it worse ! And bide the end !" 

"Have they no refuge or resources'!" cried 
Scrooge. 

" Are there no prisons 1" said the Spirit, turn- 
ing on him for the last time with his own words. 
" Are there no workhouses'!" 

The bell struck twelve. 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and 
saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, 
he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Mar- 
ley, and hfting up his eyes, beheld a Phantom, 
draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along 
the ground, towards him. 



STAVE FOUR. 

THE L.4ST OF THE SPIRITS. 

The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, ap- 
proached. When it came near him, Scrooge 
bent down upon his knee ; for in the very air 
through which this Spirit moved it seemed to 
scatter gloom and mystery. 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, 
which concealed its head, its face, its form, and 
left nothing of it visible save one outstretched 



hand. But for this it would have been difficult' 
to detach its figure from the night, and separate; 
it from the darkness by which it was surrounded. 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it 
came beside him, and that its mysterious pres- 
ence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew 
no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. 

" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christ-^ 
mas Yet To Come V said Scrooge. 

The Spirit answered not, but pointed down- 
ward with its hand. 

" You are about to show me shadows of the 
things that have not happened, but will happea 
in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. " Is 
that so, Spirit 1" 

The upper portion of the garment was con- 
tracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit 
had inclined its head. That was the only an- 
swer he received. 

Although well used to ghostly company by 
this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so 
much that his legs trembled beneath him, and 
he found that he could hardly stand when he- 
prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a mo- 
ment, as observing his condition, and giving him. 
time to recover. 

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It: 
thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to 
know that behind the dusky shroud there were 
ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, 
though he stretched his own to the utmost, 
could see nothing but a spectral hand and one 
great heap of black. 

" Ghost of the Future !" he exclaimed, " I fear- 
you more than any Spectre I have seen. But, 
as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as 
I hope to live to he another man from what I 
was, I am prepared to bear you company, and 
do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak 
to met" 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed 
straight before them. 

" Lead on !" said Scrooge. " Lead on ! The 
night is waning fast, and it is precious time to 
me, r know. Lead on, Spirit !" 

The Phantom moved away as it had come 
towards him. Scrooge followed in the shadow 
of its dress, which bore him up, he thought, and 
carried him along. 

They scarcely seemed to enter the city ; for 
the city rather seemed to spring up about them, 
and encompass them of its own act. But there 
they were, in the heat of it ; on 'Change, among 
the merchants ; who hurried up and down, and 
chinked the money in their pockets, and con- 
versed in groups, and looked at their watches, 
and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold, 
seals, and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them 
often. 

The Spirit stopped beside one Utile knot of 
business men. Observing that the hand was 
pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to 
their talk. 

" No," said a great fat man with a monstrous 
chin, " I don't know much about it, either way. 
I only know he's dead." 

"When did he dieV inquired another. 

" Last night, I believe." 

"Why, what was the matter with himi" 
asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff" 
out of a very large snuff-box. " I thought he'd,, 
never die." 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



25 



" God knows," said the first, with a yawn. 

" What has he done with his money !" asked 
a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excres- 
cence on the end of his nose, that shook like the 
gills of a turkey-cock. 

" I haven't heard," said the man with the 
large chin, yawning again. " Left it to hife 
Company, perhaps. He hasn't left it to me. 
That's all I know." 

This pleasantry was received with a general 
langh. 

" It's likely to he a very cheap funeral," said 
the same speaker ; " for upon my life I don't 
know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make 
up a party and volunteer 1" 

" I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," 
observed the gentleman with the excrescence on 
his nose. " But I must be fed, if I make one." 

Another laugh. 

"Well, I am the most disinterested among 
you, after all," said the first speaker, " for I 
never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch. 
But I'll offer to go, if anybody else will. When 
I come to think of it, I'm not at all sure that I 
wasn't his most particular friend ; for we used 
to stop and speak whenever we met. Bye, 
bye !" 

' Speakers and listeners strolled away, and 
mixed with other groups. Scrooge knew the 
men, and looked towards the Spirit for an ex- 
planation. 

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its 
finger pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge 
listened again, thinking that the explanation 
might lie here. 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They 
were men of business ; very wealthy, and of 
great importance. He had made a point always 
of standing well in their esteem : in a business 
point of view, that is ; strictly in a business 
point of view. 

" How are you V said one. 

" How are you?' returned the other. 

""Well !" said the first. " Old Scratch has 
got his own at last, heyl" 

" So I am told," returned the second " Cold, 
isn't if!" 

" Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not 
a skater, I suppose V 

" No. No. Something else to think of. Good 
morning !" 

Not another word. That was their meeting, 
their conversation, and their parting. 

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised 
that the Spirit should attach importance to con- 
versations apparently so trivial ; but feeling as- 
sured that they must have some hidden purpose, 
he set himsell' to consider what it was likely to 
be. They could scarcely be supposed to have 
any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old part- 
ner, for that was Past, and this Ghost's pro- 
vince was the Future. Nor could he think of 
any one immediately connected wih hirjjself, to 
whom he could apply them. But nothing doubt- 
ing that to whomsoever they applied they had 
some latent moral for his own improvement, 
he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, 
and everything he saw ; and espwially to ob- 
serve the shadow of himself when it appeared. 
For he had an expectation that the conduct of 
his future self would give him the clue he miss- 
ed, and would render the solution of these rid- 
dles easy. 



He looked about in that very place for his 
own image ; but another man stood in his ac- 
customed corner, and though the clock pointed 
to his usual time of day for being there, he saw 
no likeness of himself among the multitudes 
that poured in through the Porch. It gave him 
little surprise, however, for he had been revolv- 
ing in his mind a change of life, and thought 
and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions 
carried out in this. 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phan- 
tom, with its outstretched hand. When he 
roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he 
fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situa- 
tion in reference to himself, that the Unseen. 
Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made 
him shudder, and feel very cold. 

They left the busy scene, and went into an , 
obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had 
never penetrated before, although he recognised 
its situation, and its bad repute. The way.s 
were foul and narrow ; the shops and houses 
wretched ; the people half-naked, drunken, slip- 
shod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many 
cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and 
dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets, and 
the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, 
and misery. 

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was 
a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house 
roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and 
greasy olTal were bought. Upon the floor with- 
in, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, 
chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse 
iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like 
to scrutinize were bred and hidden in mount- 
ains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, 
and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the 
wares he dealt in, by a charcoal-stove, made of 
old bricks, was a gray-haired rascal, nearly 
seventy years of age, who had screened him- 
self from the cold air without, by a frousy cur- 
taining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a. 
line, and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of 
calm retirement. 

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the 
presence of this man just as a woman with a 
heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had 
scarcely entered, when another woman, simi- 
larly laden, came in too ; and she was closely 
followed by a man in faded black, who was no 
less startled by the sight of them than they had 
been upon the recognition of each other. After 
a short period of blank astonishment, in which 
the old man with the pipe had joined them, 
they all three burst into a laugh. 

" Let the charwoman alone to be the first !" 
cried she who had entered first. " Let the 
laundress alone to be the second ; and let the 
undertaker's man alone to be the third. Loeik. 
here, old Joe, here's a chance. If we haven't 
all three met here without meaning it !" 

" You couldn't have met in a better place," 
said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. 
" Come into the parlour. You were made free 
of it long ago, you know ; and the other two 
an't strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the 
shop. Ah ! How it skreeks ! There an't such 
a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hin- 
ges, I believe, and I'm sure there's no such old 
bones here as mine. Ha, ha ! We're all suit- 
able to our calling, we're well matched. Coma 
into the parlour. Come into the parlour." 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



26 

The parlour was the space behind the screen 
'Of rags. The old man raked the fire together 
■with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his 
smoky lamp (for it was night) with the stem of 
his pipe, put it in his mouth again. 

While he did this the woman who had al- 
Teady spoken threw her bundle on the floor and 
sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool ; 
■crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking 
■with a bold defiance at the other two. 

"What odds, then! What odds, Mrs. Dil- 
herV said the woman. "Every person has a 
Tight to take care of themselves. He always 
did !" 

" That's true, indeed !" said the laundress. 
•" No man more so." 

" Why, then, don't stand stanng as if you 
-was afraid, woman ; who's the wiser 1 We're 
not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I 
suppose I " 

" No, indeed !" said Mrs. Dilber and the man 
together. " We should hope not." 

"Very well, then !" cried the woman. " That's 
enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few 
things like these 1 Not a dead man, I suppose." 

'No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. 
' " If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, 
a wicked old screw," pursued the woman, " why 
-wasn't he natural in his lifetime i If he had 
been, he'd have had somebody to look after him 
when he was struck with Death, instead of ly- 
ing gasping out his last there, alone by him- 
self" 

"It's the truest word that ever was spoke, 
said Mrs.Dilber. " It's a judgment on him." 

" I wish it was a little heavier one," replied 
the woman ; " and it should have been, you may 
depend upon it, if I covdd have laid my hands 
on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe, 
and let me know the value of it. Speak out 
plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid 
for them to see it. We knew pretty well that 
we were helping ourselves, before we met here, 
1 believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe." 

But the gallantry of her friends would not al- 
low of this ; and the man in faded black, mount- 
ing the breach first, produced his plunder. It 
>\'as not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case, 
a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no 
great value, were all. They were severally ex- 
amined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked 
the sums he was disposed to give for each upon 
the wall, and added them up in a total when he 
ibund that there was nothing more to come. 

"That's your account," said Joe, "and I 
■wouldn't give another sixpence, if I was to be 
boiled for not doing it. Who's next 1" 

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a 
little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver 
teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and a few 
boots. Her account was stated on the wall in 
, the same manner. 

" I always give too much to ladies. It's a 
weakness of mine, and that's the way I ruin 
myself," said old Joe. " That's your account. 
If you asked me for another penny, and made it 
an open question, I'd repent of being so liberal, 
and knock off half-a-crown." 

" And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the 
first woman. 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater 
.convenience of opening it, and having unfasten- 



ed a great many knots, dragged out a large and 
heavy roll of some dark stuff. 

" What do you call this 1" said Joe. " Bed- 
curtains V 

" Ah I" returned the woman, laughing and 
leaning forward on her crossed arms. " Bed- 
curtains !" 

" You don't mean to say you took 'em down, 
rings and all, with him lying there V said Joe. 

"Yes, I do," replied the woman. "Why 
notr' , 

" You were born to make your fortune," saiu 
Joe, " and you'll certainly do it." 

"I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I 
can get anything in it by reaching it out, for the 
sake of such a man as He was, I promise you, 
Joe," returned the woman, coolly. " Don't 
drop that oil upon the blankets, now." 

" His blankets V asked Joe. 

"Whose else's do you think?" replied the 
woman. " He isn't likely to take cold without 
'em, I dare say." 

" I hope he didn't die of anything catching 7 
EhV' said old Joe, stopping in his work, and 
looking up. 

"Don't you be afraid of -that," returned the 
woman, " I an't so fond of his company that 
I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did. 
Ah ! You may look through that shirt till your 
eyes ache ; but you won't find a hole in it, nor 
a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and 
a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if it 
hadn't been for me." 

"What do you call wasting of it V asked old 

Joe. . 

" Putting it on him to be buried in, to be 
sure," replied the woman with a laugh. " Some- 
body was fool enough to do it, but I took it ofF 
again. If calico an't good enough for'such a 
purpose, it isn't good enough for anything. It's 
quite as becoming to the body. He can't look 
uglier than he did in that one." 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. 
As they sat grouped about their spoil, in the 
scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he 
viewed them with a detestation and disgust, 
which could hardly have been greater, though 
they had been obscene demons, marketing the 
corpse itself 

" Ha, ha !" laughed the same woman, when 
old Joe, producing a flannel bag with money in 
it, told out their several gains upon the ground. 
" This is the end of it, you see ! He frighten- 
ed every one away from him when he was alive, 
to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha !" 

" Spirit !" said Scrooge, shuddering from 
head to foot. " I see, I see. The case of this 
unhappy man might be my own. My life tends 
that wav. now. Merciful Heaven, what is 
this !" 

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had 
changed, and now he almost touched a bed : a 
bare,''uncurtained bed : on which, beneath a 
ragged sheet, there lay a something covered up, 
whfch, though it was dumb, announced itself in 
awful language. 

The room was very dark, too dark to be ob- 
served with any accuracy, though Scrooge 
glanced round it in obedience to a secret im- 
pulse, anxious to know what kind of room it 
was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell 
straight upon the bed ; and on it, plundered and 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



27 



'bereft, unwatched, unwept, unoared for, was 
the body of this man. 

Scrooge glanced towards the phantom. Its 
steady hand was pointed to the head. The 
cover was so carelessly adjusted that the 
slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger 
upon Scrooge's part, would have disclosed the 
face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would 
be to do, and longed to do it ; but had no more 
■power to withdraw ths veil than to dismiss the 
spectre at his side. 

Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up 
thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors 
as thou hast at thy command : for this is thy 
dominion ! But of the loved, revered, and hon- 
oured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy 
dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It 
is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down 
when released; it is not that the heart and 
pulse are still ; but that the hand was open, 
generous, and true ; the heart brave, warm, 
and tender ; and the pulse a man's. Strike, 
Shadow, strike ! And see his good deeds 
springing from the wound, to sow tlie world 
•with life immortal ! 

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's 
ears, and yet he heard them when he looked 
upon the bed. He thought, if this man could 
be raised up now, what would be his foremost 
thoughts] Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares'! 
They have brought him into a rich end, truly ! 
'■ He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a 
man, a woman, or a child, to say he was kind 
to me in this or that, and for the memory of 
one kind word I will be kind to him. A cat 
was tearing at the door, and there was a sound 
of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. 
"What they wanted in the room of death, and 
-why they were so restless and disturbed, 
Scrooge did not dare to think. 

"Spirit!" he said, "this is a fearful place. 
In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust 
Tne. Let us go !" 

1 Still the ghost pointed with an unmoved fin- 
ger to the head. 

" I understand you," Scrooge returned, " and 
I would do it, if I could. But I have not the 
power. Spirit. I have not the power." 

Again it seemed to look upon him. 

" If there is any person in the town who feels 
emotion caused by this man'-s death," said 
Scrooge, quite agonized, " show that person to 
me. Spirit, I beseech you !" 

The phantom spread its dark robe before him 
for a moment, like a wing ; and withdrawing it, 
revealed a room by daylight, where a mother 
and her children were. 

i She was expecting some one, and with anx- 
ious eagerness ; for she walked up and down 
the room ; started at every sound ; looked out 
from the window ; glanced at the clock ; tried, 
tat in vain, to work with her needle ; and could 
bardly bear the voices of the children in their 
jjlay. 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. 
'She hurried to the door, and met her husband ; 
a man whose face was care-worn and depres- 
sed, though he was young. There was a re- 
markable expression in it now ; a kind of seri- 
ous delight of which he felt ashamed, and which 
Jie struggled to repress. 

iie sat down to the dinner that had been 



hoarding for him by the fire ; and when she 
asked him faintly what news (which was not 
until after a long silence), he appeared embar- 
rassed how to answer. 

" Is it good," she said, " or bad !" to help him. 

" Bad," he answered. 

"We are quite ruined V 

"No. There is hope yet, Caroline." 

" If he relents," she said, amazed, " there is ! 
Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has hap- 
pened." 

" He is past relenting," said her husband. 
" He is dead." 

She was a mild and patient creature, if her 
face spoke truth ; but she was thankful in her 
soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped 
hands. She prayed forgiveness the next mo- 
ment, and was sorry ; but the first was the 
emotion of her heart. 

" What the half-drunken woman, whom I told 
you of last night, said to me when I tried to 
see him and obtain a week's delay ; and what 
I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me ; 
turns out to have been quite true. He was not 
only very ill, but dying, then." 

"To whom will our debt be transferred V 

" I don't know. But before that time we 
shall be ready with the money ; and even 
though we were not, it would be bad fortune, 
indeed, to find so merciless a creditor in his 
successor. We may sleep to-night with light 
hearts, Caroline !" 

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts 
were lighter. The children's faces hushed, and 
clustered round to hear what they so little un- 
derstood, were brighter; and it was a happier 
house for this man's death I The only emo- 
tion that the Ghost could show him, caused by 
the event, was one of pleasure. 

" Let me see some tenderness connected 
with a death," said Scrooge ; " or that dark 
chamber. Spirit, which we left just now, will 
be for ever present to me." 

The Ghost conducted him through several 
streets familiar to his feet ; and as they went 
along, Scrooge looked here and there to find 
himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. They 
entered poor Bob Cratchit's house; the dwell- 
ing he had visited before ; and found the mother 
and the children seated round the fire. 

Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Crat- 
chits were as stUl as statues in one corner, 
and sat looking up at Peter, who had a book 
before him. The mother and her daughters 
were engaged in sewing. But surely they were 
very quiet ! 

" 'And He took a child, and set him in the 
midst of them.' " 

Where had Scrooge heard those words 1 He 
had not dreamed them. The boy must have 
read them out, as he and the Spirit crossed the 
threshold. Why did he not go onj 

The mother laid her work upon the table, 
and put her hand up to her face. 

The colour hurts my eyes," she said. 

The colour"! Ah, poor Tiny Tim ! 

" They're better now again," said Cratcliit's 
wife. " It makes them weak by candle-light ; 
and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father 
when he comes home, for the world. It must 
be near his time." 

" Past it, rather," Peter answered, shutting 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



2S 

up his book. " But I think he's walked a little 
slower than he used, these few last evenings, 
mother." 

They were very quiet again. At last she 
said, and in a steady, cheerful voice, that only 
faultered once : 

" I have known him walk with — I have 
known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his 
shoulder, very fast, indeed." 

" And so have I," cried Peter. " Often." 

" And so have I !" exclaimed another. So 
had all. 

" But he was very light to carry," she resu- 
med, intent upon her work, "and his father 
loved hitn so, that it was no trouble— no trouble. 
And there is your father at the door !" 

She hurried out to meet him ; and little Bob 
in his comforter— he had need of it, poor fel- 
low — came in. His tea was ready for him on 
the hob, and they all tried who should help him 
to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got 
upon his knees and laid, each child a little 
cheek, against his face, as if they said, "Don't 
mind it, father. Don't be grieved !" 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke 
pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the 
work upon the table, and praised the industry 
and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They 
would be done long before Sunday, he said. 

" Sunday ! You went to-day, then, Robert 1" 
said his wife. 

" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish 
you could have gone. It would have done you 
good to see how green a place it is. But you'll 
see it often. I promised him that I would walk 
there on a Sunday. My little, little child !" 
cried Bob. " My little chUd !" 

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help 
it. If he could have helped it, he and his child 
would have been farther apart, perhaps, than 
they were. 

He left the room, and went upstairs into the 
room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and 
hung with Christmas. There was a chair set 
close beside the child, and there were signs of 
some one having been there lately. Poor Bob 
sat down in it, and when he had thought a lit- 
tle and composed himself, he kissed the little 
face. He was reconciled to what had happen- 
ed, and went down again quite happy. 

They drew about the fire, and talked ; the 
girls and mother working still. Bob told them 
of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's 
nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once, 
and who, meeting him in the street that day, 
and seeing that he looked a little — " just a little 
down you know," said Bob, enquired what had 
happened to distress him. " On. which," said 
Bob, " for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentle- 
man you ever heard, I told him. ' I am heart- 
ily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,' he said, ' and 
heartily sorry for your good wife.' By the bye, 
how he ever knew that, I don't know." 

" Knew what, my dear 1" 

" Why, that you were a good wife," replied 
Bob. 

"Everybody knows that !" said Peter. 

"Very well observed, my boy!" cried Bob. 
" I hope they do. ' Heartily sorry,' he said, 
' for your good wife. If I can be of service to 
you in any way,' he said, giving me his card, 
' that's where I live. Pray come to me.' Now, 



it wasn't," cried Bob, " for the sake of anything- 
he might be able to do for us, so much as for his 
kind way, that this was quite deliglitful. It 
really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, 
and felt with us." 

"I'm sure he's a good soul!" said Mrs. 
Cratchit. 

" You would be surer of it, my dear," return- 
ed Bob, " if you saw and spoke to him. I 
shouldn't be at all surprised, mark what I say, 
if he got Peter a better situation." 

" Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Chratchit. 

" And then," cried one of the girls, " Peter 
will be keeping company with some one, and 
setting up for himself" 

" Get along with you !" retorted Peter, grin- 
ning. 

" It's just as likely as not," said Bob, " one 
of these days ; though there's plenty of time for 
that, my dear. But however and whenever we 
part from one another, I am sure we shall none 
of us forget poor Tiny Tim— shall we— or this 
first parting that there was among us"!" 

"Never, father!" cried they all. 

" And I know," said Bob, " I know, my dears, 
that when we recollect how patient and how 
mild he was ; although he was a little, little 
child ; we shall not quarrel easily among our- 
selves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it." 

"No, never, father !" they all cried again. 

" I am very happy," said little Bob, " I am 
very happy !" 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kiss- 
ed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him, 
and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of 
Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God ! 

" Spectre," said Scrooge, " something informs 
me that our parting moment is at hand. I know 
it, but I know not how. Tell me what man 
that was whom we saw lying dead 1" 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come con- 
veyed him, as before — though at a different time,- 
he thought ; indeed, there seemed no order in 
these latter visions, save that they were in the 
Future — into the resorts of business men, but 
showed him not himself Indeed, the Spirit did 
not stay for anything, but went straight on, as. 
to the end just now desired, until besought by 
Scrooge to tarry for a moment. 

" This court," said Scroogev "through which 
we hurry now, is where my place of occupation 
is, and has been for a length of time. I see the 
house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days 
to come." 

The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed 
elsewhere. 

" The house is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed. 
" Why do you point away 1" 

The inexorable finger underwent no change. 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office,, 
and looked in. It was an office still, but not 
his. The furniture was not the same, and the 
figure in the chair was not himself The Phan- 
tom pointed as before. 

He joined it once again, and wondering why 
and whither he had gone, accompanied it until 
they reached an iron gate. He paused to look 
round before entering. 

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched 
man whose name he had now to learn, lay un- 
derneath the ground. It was a worthy place. 
Walled in by houses ; overrun by grass and 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



29 



weeds, the growth of vegetation's death, not 
life; choked up with too much burying; fat 
With repleted appetite. A worthy place ! 

The Spirit stood among the graves, and point- 
ed down to One. He advanced towards it 
trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had 
been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning 
in its solemn shape. 

" Before I draw nearer to that stone to which 
you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one ques- 
tion. Are these the shadows of the things that 
"Will be, or are they shadows of the things that 
May be, only '!" 

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the 
grave by which it stood. 

" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, 
to which, if persevered in, they must lead," 
.said Scrooge. " But if the courses be departed 
from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with 
what you show me !" 

The Spirit was immovable as ever. 

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he 
went ; and following the finger, read upon the 
stone of the neglected grave his own name, 
Ebenezee Sckoohe. 

" Am 1 that man who lay upon the bed 1" he 
cried, upon his knees. 

The finger pointed from the grave to him, 
and back again. 

"No, Spirit! Oh no, no !" 

The finger still was there. 

" Spirit !" he cried, tight clutching at its 
robe, " hear me ! I am not the man I was. I 
will not be the man I must have been but for 
this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am 
past all hope?" 

For the first time the hand appeared to 
shake. 

"Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon 
the ground he fell before it : " Your nature in- 
tercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me 
that I yet may change these shadows you have 
shown me, by an altered life !" 

The kind hand trembled. 

" I will honour Christmas in my heart, and 
try to keep it all the year. I will live in the 
Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits 
••of all three shall strive within me. I will not 
•shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell 
me I may sponge away the writing on this 
stone !" 

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It 
sought to free itself, but he was strong in his 
entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger 
yet, repulsed him. 

Holding up his hands in one last prayer to 
have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in 
the phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, col- 
lapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost. 



STAVE FIVE. 

THE END OF IT. 

Yes ! and the bedpost was his own. The 
bed was his own, the room was his own. Best 
and happiest of all, the Time before him was 
his own to make amends in ! 

" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the 
Future !" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled 
out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall 
strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley f Heaven, 



and the Christmas Time be praised for this ! I 
say it on my knees, old Jacob ; on my knees !" 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his 
good intentions, that his broken voice would 
scarcely answer to his call. He had been sob- 
bing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, 
and his face was wet with tears. 

" They are not torn down," cried Scrooge, 
folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, 
" they are not torn down, rings and all. They 
are here : I am here : the shadows of the things 
that would have been, may be dispelled. They 
will be. I know they will !'' 

His hands were busy with his garments all 
this time : turning them inside out, putting them 
on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, 
making them parties to every kind of extrava- 
gance. 

"I don't know what to do !" cried Scrooge, 
laughing and crying in the same breath ; and 
making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his 
stockings. " I am as light as a feather, I am 
as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a 
school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. 
A merry Christmas to everybody ! A happy 
New Year to all the world. Hallo here ! 
Whoop! Hallo!" 

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and 
was now standing there : perfectly winded. 

"There's the saucepan that the gruel was 
in !" cried Scrooge, starting off again, and 
frisking round the fire-place. " There's the 
door by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley en- 
tered ! There's the corner where the Ghost of 
Christmas Present sat ! There's the window 
where I saw the wandering Spirits ! It's aril 
right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha !" 

Really, for a man who had been out of prac- 
tice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, 
a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, 
long, line of brilliant laughs I 

" I don't know what day of the month it is !" 
said Scrooge. " I don't know how long I've 
been among the Spirits. I don't know anything. 
I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. 
I'd rather be a baby. Hallo ! Whoop ! Hallo 
here !" 

He was checked in his transports by the 
churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had 
ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, 
bell. Bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash ! 
Oh, glorious, glorious ! 

Running to the window, he opened it, and 
put out his head. No fog, no mist ; clear, 
bright, jovial, stirring, cold ; cold, piping for 
the blood to dance to ; Golden sunlight ; Heav- 
enly sky ; sweet fresh air ; merry bells. Oh, 
glorious, glorious ! 

"What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling 
downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who 
perhaps had loitered in to look about him. 

" Eh 1" returned the boy, with all his might 
of wonder. 

"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said 
Scrooge. 

" To-day !" replied the boy. " Why, Chkist- 
M.is Day." 

" It's Christmas Day !" said Scrooge to him- 
self "I haven't missed it. The S|)irils have 
done it all in one night. They can do anythi?ig 
they like. Of course they can. Of oours-j they 
can. Hallo, my fine fellow !" 



30 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



" Hallo !" returned the boy. 

" Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next 
street but one, at the corner 1" Scrooge inqui- 
red. 

" I should hope I did," replied the lad. 

" An inteiligent boy !" said Scrooge. " A re- 
markable boy ! Do you know whether they've 
sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up 
there! Not the little prize Turkey: the big 
one!" 

" What, the one as big as me V returned the 
boy. 

' ' What a delightful boy !" said Scrooge. " It s 
a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck !" 

" It's hanging there now," replied the boy. 

" Is it 1" said Scrooge. " Go and buy it." 

" Walk-ER !" exclaimed the boy. 

" No, no," said Scrooge, " I am in earnest. 
Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that 
I may give them the direction where to take it. 
Come back with the man, and I'll give you a 
shilling. Come back with him in less than five 
minutes, and I'll give you half-a-crown !" 

The boy was off like a shot. He must have 
had a steady hand at a trigger who could have 
got a shot off half so fast. 

" I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's !" whispered 
Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with 
alaugh. " He sha'n't know who sends it. It's 
twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never 
made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will 
be !" 

The hand in which he wrote the address was 
not a steady one, but write it he did, somehow, 
and went down stairs to open the street door, 
ready for the coming of the poulterer's man. 
As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the 
knocker caught his eye. 

"I shall love it as long as I live!" cried 
Scrooge, patting it with his hand. " I scarcely 
ever looked at it before. What an honest ex- 
pression it has in its face ! It's a wonderful 
knocker !— Here's the Turkey. Hallo! Whoop! 
How are you ! Merry Christmas !" 

It was a Turkey ! He never could have stood 
upon his legs, that bird. He would have snap- 
ped 'em short off in a minute, like sticks of 
sealing-wax. 

" Why, it's impossible to carry that to Cam- 
den Town," said Scrooge. " You must have a 
cab." 

The chuckle with which he said this, and the 
chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and 
the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and 
the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, 
were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with 
which he sat down breathless in his chair again, 
and chuckled till he cried. 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand 
continued to shake very much ; and shaving re- 
quires attention, even when you don't dance 
while you are at it. But if he had cut the end 
of his nose off, he would have put a piece of 
sticking- plaister over it, and been quite satisfied. 

He dressed himself " all in his best," and at 
last got into the streets. The people were by 
this time pouring forth, as he had seen them 
with the Ghost of Christmas Present; and 
walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge re- 
garded every one with a delighted smile. He 
looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that 
three or four good-humoured iellows said " Good 



morning, sir ! A merry Christmas to you !" 
And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all 
the blithe sounds he had ever heard, tliose were- 
the blithest in his ears. 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards 
him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had 
walked into his counting-house the day before 
and said, " Scrooge and Marley's, I believe 1" 
It sent a pang across his heart to think how this 
old gentleman would look upon him when they 
met ; but he knew what path lay straight before 
him, and he took it. 

" My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his 
pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his 
hands. " How do you do 1 I hope you suc- 
ceeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A 
merry Christmas to you, sir !" 
" Mr. Scrooge 1" 

" Yes," said Scrooge. " That is my name, 
and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow 
me to ask your pardon. And will you have the 
goodness"— here Scrooge whispered in his ear. 

" Lord bless me !" cried the gentleman, as 
if his breath were gone. " My dear Mr. Scrooge,, 
are you serious V 

" If you please," said Scrooge. " Not a far- 
thing less. A great many back- payments are 
included in it, I assure you. Will you do me 
that favour 1" 

" My dear sir," said the other, shaking hands 
with him. " I don't know what to say to such 
munifi — " 

" Don't say anything, please," retorted 
Scrooge. " Come and see me. Will you come 
and see me V 

" I will !" cried the old gentleman. And it 
was clear he meant to do it. 

" Thank'ee," said Scrooge. " I am much 
obliged to you. I thank you fifty times. Bless 
you !" 

He went to church, and walked about the 
streets, and watched the people hurrying to and 
fro, and patted children on the head, and ques- 
tioned beggars, and looked down into the kitch- 
ens of houses, and up to the windows ; and 
found that everything could yield him pleasure. 
He had never dreamed that any walk— that any- 
thing—could give him so much happiness. In 
the afternoon he turned his steps towards his 
nephew's house. 

He passed the door a dozen times, before he 
had tire courage to go up and knock. But he 
made a dash, and did it. 

" Is your master at home, my dear ?" said 
Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl ! Very. 
" Yes, sir." 

" Where is he, my level" said Scrooge. 
"He's in the dining-room, sir, along with 
mistress. I'll show you up stairs, if you please." 

" Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, 
with his hand already on the dining-room lock. 
" I'll go in here, my dear." 

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, 
round the door. They were looking at the ta- 
ble (which was spread out in great array) ; for 
these young housekeepers are always nervous 
on such points, and like to see that everything 
is right. 

" Fred !" said Scrooge. 
Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage 
started ! Scrooge had forgotten, for the mo- 
ment, about her silting in the corner with tlie 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any 
account. 

" Why bless my soul !"' cried Fred, " who's 
that?" 

" It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come 
to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred 1" 

Let him in! It is a mercy he didn't shake 
his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. 
Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked 
just the same. So did Topper when he came. 
So did the plump sister when she came. So 
did every one when they came. Wonderful 
party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity 
won-der-ful happiness ! 

But he was early at the office next morning 
Oh he was early there. If he could only be 
there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming 
late ! That was the thing he had set his heart 
upon. 

And he did it ; yes, he did ! The clock struck 
nme. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He 
was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his 
time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, 
that he might see him come into the Tank. 

His hat was off, before he opened the door • 
his comforter too. He was on his stool in a 
jiffy ; driving away with his pen, as if he were 
trying to overtake nine o'clock. 
' "Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his accustom- 
ed voice as near as he could feign it. " What do 
you mean by coming here at this time of day 

" I'm very sorry, sir," said Bob. "I am be- 
hind my time." 

"You arel" repeated Scrooge. "Yes. I 
think you are. Step this way, if you please." 

"It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, 
appearing from the tank. " It shall not be re- 
Pe^ated. I was making rather merry yesterday, 

" Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said 
Scrooge, " I am not going to stand this sort of 
thing any longer. And therefore," he contin- 
ued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob 
such a dig m the waistcoat that he staggered 



sr. 

back into the Tank again : "and therefore I am 
about to raise your salary !" 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the 
ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking 
Scrooge down with it ; holding him ; and cal£' 
mg to the people in the court for help and a 
straight-waistcoat. 

" A merry Christmas, Bob !" said Scrooge 
with an earnestness that could not be mistakin' 
as he clapped him on the back. " A merrier 
Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have 
given you, for many a year ! I'll raise your 
salary, and endeavour to assist your strugglinff 
family, and we will diso«ss your affairs this 
very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smo- 
kmg bishop. Bob ! Make up the fires, and buy 
another coal-scuttle before you dot another i 
Bob Cratchit !" ' 

Scrooge was better than his word. He did 
It all, and infinitely more ; and to Tiny Tim, 
who did NOT die, he was a second father. He 
became as good a friend, as good a master, and 
as good a man, as the good old city knew, or 
any other good old city, town, or borough, in 
the good old world. Some people laughed to 
see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, 
and little heeded them ; for he was wise enough 
to know that nothing ever happened on this^ 
globe, for good, at which some people did not 
have their fill of laughter in the outset ; and 
knowing that such as these would be blind any- 
way, he thought it quite as well that they should 
wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the 
malady in less attractive forms. His own heart 
laughed : and that was quite enough for him. 

He had no farther intercourse with Spirits, 
but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, 
ever afterward ; and it was always said of him, 
that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if 
any man alive possessed the knowledge. May 
that be truly said of us, and all of us ! And 
so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every 
One ! 



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